On this edition of Parallax Views, Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, recently made a 48-hour visit to the United States and met with U.S. President Joe Biden. The-left-of-center politician from the Worker’s Party recently defeated the controversial and right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s previous President, to achieve his third term in office. What can we glean from Lula’s visit to Washington D.C., what does it say about what Lula wants for Brazil’s foreign policy and U.S.-Brazil relations, and what is the Biden administration’s feelings about Lula as Brazil’s political leader?
Among the topics covered in this history:
– Lula’s working class background and labor organizing, the power of his personality in Brazilian politics (as well as the pros and cons that come from this), the Worker’s Party in Brazil, and Lula’s early career dating back to 1970s with Unions
– Lula da Silva’s politics; neither a revolutionary or a right-winger or a pure neoliberal; strong reformist tendencies but not revolutionary; criticisms from the right and the left of Lula; Lula’s social welfare programs, economics, tackling of issues like poverty and hunger, and their effects on Brazilian society; Lula’s first two terms as Brazil’s President from 2003-2010; delivering material benefits to Brazilian citizens and addressing issues around inequality; wealthy and right-wing opposition to Lula’s policies
– The corruption charges against Lula; Operation Car Wash aka Java Lato, Lula’s time in jail, debate over the charges, accusations that Judge Sergio Moro colluded with the Java Lato prosecutors to prevent Lula from running for President again, the question of whether or not Java Lato was politically motivated
– Jair Bolsonaro as the greatest beneficiary of the Java Lato investigation; Jair Bolsonaro’s relationship with Donald Trump and Trumpism/the MAGA movement; how Bolsonaro throwing his political lot in such a partisan manner with Trump damaged his relations with the U.S. political scene long-term
– Lula and U.S.-Brazil relations during his 2003-2010 terms. Lula’s relationships with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; the Lula administration’s issues with the Obama White House
– Lula and Brazil as a mediator for international relations and diplomacy; the argument that this foreign policy is absurd and expects too much of Brazil as smaller country with a developing economy; Bolsonaro and the tradition of thought that the best way forward for developing Brazil is aligning with the U.S. vs. Lula’s approach of recognizing U.S. interest but placing Brazilian interests first and having neutral relations (or, in other words, taking a non-aligned approach); Lula aligning with the U.S. on some issues but not necessarily automatically aligning with the U.S. on all issues
– Lula’s stances on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the war in Ukraine, China, Venezuela, the question of sovereignty, human rights, Israel/Palestine, opposition to coups/regime change/overthrows, achieving peace when conflict breaks out on the international scene, and the importance of being able to talk to “both sides” in a conflict so as to be able to act as a mediator
– The Brazilian left’s suspicions of Washington D.C. and the recent history that has led to those suspicions (ie: U.S. spying on Lula’s Worker’s Party successor Dilma Rousseff); what does that history mean for U.S. foreign policy going forward; U.S. recognition of Lula’s Presidential victory; Venezuela’s Hugo Chaves vs. Lula in regards to U.S. relations and foreign policy
– Arguments that Lula is not critical enough of leaders deemed authoritarian in South/Central America (ie: Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela or Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua)
– The Lula/Biden meeting as an attempt to reset U.S.-Brazilian relations since Bolsonaro
– Independence as a central concept to Lula’s foreign policy; the importance of assertiveness in his foreign policy; Lula’s foreign policy as independent and assertive but also collaborative (working with other nations)
– Lula’s previous terms and the Iran nuclear deal
– What is the U.S. point-of-view/perspective on Lula and Brazil right now under Joe Biden’s administration
– Criticism from the left and far-left, specifically in Brazil, that argue Lula is too moderate and thus is not going to challenge neoliberalism; what is Lula’s stance on the legacy of neoliberalism and dealing with that legacy?; U.S. leftists that view Lula as a pure socialist; Lula’s lack of interest in academic debates about socialism and leftism; Lula’s populism and lack of interest in political purity displays; Lula’s compromises and his reformist rather than revolutionary tendencies
– Lula’s foreign policy ambitions and the U.S. not, so far, taking issue with those ambitions; should the U.S. be taking this approach?
– Rationalism and Lula’s foreign policy
– Foreign policy, human rights, and political trade-offs/compromises
– Lula’s stance on neoliberalism and privatization; Lula, infrastructure projects, and state-owned banks
– Potential sources of friction between the U.S. and Brazil in terms of foreign policy
– A brief look at Lula’s views on human rights in regards to the Israel/Palestine conflict; Western hypocrisy on human rights issues and Brazilian criticism of that perceived hypocrisy; Jair Bolsonaro’s stance on Israel/Palestine (pro-Israel/anti-Palestine) and the role that played in Bolsonarismo and the Brazilian far-right
– 2024 as the bicentennial of U.S. recognition of Brazilian independence
– And more!