Lula insists on a platform speech and maintains a revanchist tone on his first international trip

BUENOS AIRES — On the first international trip of his third term, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva insisted on speeches with a revanchist and electoral tone, made nods to the PT base and stroked authoritarian regimes in Latin America. In the international commitment, the PT reiterated the defense of agendas aligned to the left, but, upon taking office, he stated that Brazil needed pacification and unity.

During two days on the official agenda in Buenos Aires, where he attended the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), the PT criticized his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, saying that the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, carried out by Congress under the vigilance of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), was a blow and asked for “a lot of affection” in the relationship with Cuba and Venezuela. This Wednesday, the 25th, he will travel to Uruguay, where he will meet right-wing Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou.

Fernández met with Lula at the Casa Rosada.
Fernández met with Lula at the Casa Rosada. Photograph: reproduction

For experts, Lula marked a difference in relation to Bolsonaro by strengthening ties with Argentina – a country attacked by his predecessor – while keeping militancy lively by complaining, in public speeches, of the former president’s conduct. With Brazil marked by polarization, the PT defeated Bolsonaro with a narrow margin of votes (50.9% to 49.1%).

“Lula is still trying to find a balance between internal and external discourse. When Lula was president for the first time, it still didn’t have the digital dynamics that we have today and it was easier to keep international speeches within a certain box, these speeches overflowed less into the political day to day”, said Guilherme Casarões, political scientist and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

Now, according to him, there is demand from supporters for the president’s positions, in addition to greater repercussions from events outside the country. “Lula has a less PT government than previous governments. For this reason, he uses the possibilities he has to make speeches to make nods to militancy, including the international one”, said Casarões. For him, it is “expected” that Lula will continue with his criticism of his predecessor, “even more so in light of what happened on the 8th”, when the headquarters of the three Powers were the target of coup plotters.

This Tuesday, the 24th, Lula mentioned the episode in a speech at Celac. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have sided with Brazil and Brazilian institutions, over these last few days, in repudiation of the anti-democratic acts that took place in Brasília. It is important to emphasize that we are a peaceful region, which rejects extremism, terrorism and political violence”, said the PT.

The president, however, made no reference to countries like Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, which were the reasons for leaving the bloc, according to the Bolsonaro government, which was criticized: “Throughout the successive Brazilian governments, since redemocratization , we strive hard and with a sense of mission in favor of regional integration and the consolidation of a peaceful region, based on relationships marked by dialogue and cooperation. The regrettable exception was recent years, when my predecessor took the inexplicable decision to withdraw Brazil from CELAC.”

Lula met with the Cuban leader, Miguel Díaz-Canel. During Celac, the PT member praised Brazil’s “return” to the international scene.

On Twitter, Lula highlighted relations with the communist regime in Cuba as an example, when he posted a photo with Díaz-Canel: “Brazil restoring its diplomatic relations in the world”. According to Casarões, this left-wing solidarity was also expected.

The speech aimed at internal militancy, however, is not exclusive to Lula. Bolsonaro also adopted the strategy at international events, to denounce, for example, a supposed rise of communism.

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“By making criticisms (to Bolsonaro), Lula really wants to demarcate a clear border between the two at the international level, but, obviously, everything works for the domestic public. When Bolsonaro went to the UN, he made a speech completely aimed at the national public and ignored the international plan,” said Rodrigo Prando, political scientist and professor at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. “Lula, on the other hand, has the political ability to work at the international level, but without forgetting that this resonates with supporters and the base in Brazil. Bolsonaro had an isolationist stance. Lula, no.

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