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Lula da Silva presents Brazil as the new leader of the Global South at the UN Assembly

“Brazil is back” has been Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s motto for most of this year, in which the president has presented his country – and himself – as a leader of the Global South, no longer content with the outdated functioning of the world.

Lula last year thwarted the re-election bid of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro, who showed little interest in geopolitics or diplomacy in his four years in office.

Lula, on the other hand, has traveled the world and visited 21 countries in recent months, from the United States to China, from Italy to India, from Argentina to Angola. He has sought to bolster Brazil’s credentials with every state visit and every speech, from one international forum to the next.

On Tuesday, his appearance before the United Nations General Assembly means his return to that room for the first time since 2009the last year of his second term.

“We will see references to the ‘Brazil is back’ message, as Brazil seeks to present itself more broadly as a country that not only wants to preserve, but lead the reforms of the multilateral system in the coming years,” said Oliver Stuenkel, associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a University of San Pablo.

Lula’s electoral victory last year was the closest in modern Brazilian history, and the risk of a strong polarization of the young Brazilian democracy It became evident even after he took office, when Bolsonaro supporters stormed the capital in an attempt to oust him from power, on January 8, a week after the new president was inaugurated.

Lula da Silva, with Joe Biden in the White House, last February. Photo: REUTERS

Many thought Lula would have to stay home to focus exclusively on internal affairs and heal a divided society. But she has combined it with a whirlwind tour more typical of a president’s second term.

Travel and messages

On his travels, Lula has pushed for global governance that gives more leeway to the Global South and advocated reducing dependence on the dollar in trade. He has made it clear that Brazil has no intention of aligning itself with the United States or China, the two largest economies in the world and Brazil’s main trading partners.

He has also refused to join Washington and western Europe in backing Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion, instead calling for a group of nations to mediate peace talks.

When Lula took office in January, some members of Joe Biden’s administration expected him to become a strong ally of the United States, but there was a recognition that he is more of a partner who “will not fundamentally change his vision of the world,” said Brian Winter, an expert on Brazil and vice president of the Council of the Americas, based in New York.

Biden and Lula plan to meet in New York this Wednesday and participate in an event with union organizers, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Friday.

The presidents of Brazil and the United States, who give the first and second speeches at the General Assembly, also usually chat a few minutes beforehand behind the scenes.

Differences with the United States

Lula’s differences with Washington were on the table this weekend when resumed relations with Cuba and condemned Washington’s policy towards the Caribbean island.

The president also visited Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela in May, where he said that the accusations of authoritarianism in the country derive from a false story, despite political arrests and interference in elections, as well as threats to journalists.

Lula da Silva was received by the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, last week in Havana for the G-77 summit.  Photo: REUTERS  Lula da Silva was received by the president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, last week in Havana for the G-77 summit. Photo: REUTERS

Lula is not the only one with ambitions to bring his vision to the developing world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attempted to do the same, saying last month in an Independence Day speech that “India is becoming the voice of the Global South.”

YoIndia has more economic and strategic importance in the world than Brazil, which complicates Lula’s aspirations to play that role, said Thomas Traumann, a Brazilian political analyst.

Lula will have his chance to host foreign leaders for a major multilateral forum in the coming years, as he hosts the G20 next year and likely the UN climate conference in 2025.

Lula has already been at least “one of the most important voices in the defense or transformation of the political and economic architecture established after World War II,” if not the most important, said Paulo Peres, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande. do Sul.

His speech on Tuesday is expected to reflect demands already expressed by Brazil, such as a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, as well as Lula’s efforts all year.

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