News ID: 115639
Publish Date : 30 May 2023 - 22:46

‘New Era’ of Friendship as Lula Receives Maduro

BRASÍLIA (Dispatches) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, vowing a new era for a relationship that was severed under far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.
Maduro was welcomed by an honor guard at the presidential palace in Brasilia, where veteran leftist Lula greeted him with a hug and a back-slap.
“Venezuela has always been an exceptional partner for Brazil. But because of the political situation and the mistakes that were made, President Maduro spent eight years without coming to Brazil,” Lula told a news conference.
Brazil cut diplomatic ties with the Maduro government under president Bolsonaro (2019-2022), joining the United States and about 50 other countries in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president after 2018 elections which Maduro won.
Lula has restored relations with Maduro’s government since taking office in January -- part of an overhaul of Brazil’s Bolsonaro-era foreign policy.
Lula, who invited Maduro to the Brazilian capital for a South American leaders’ summit Tuesday, called his visit a “new moment” in Brazil-Venezuela ties and “the start of Maduro’s return.”
“I always thought it was absurd for people who defend democracy to deny you were Venezuela’s president, having been elected by the people,” Lula said, condemning “prejudice” against the neighboring country’s government.
Lula said he would support a bid by Venezuela to join the BRICS group of leading emerging nations, which includes his country, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
He said the group would debate requests from “several countries” wanting to join BRICS when they meet for a summit in South Africa later this year.
Maduro meanwhile hailed a “new era” in the countries’ relations. “Brazil and Venezuela must be united, from now on and always,” he said.
The two leaders assailed U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Maduro said he hopes a regional South American summit in Brasilia will call for their removal.
Lula called the U.S. sanctions “extremely exaggerated” and criticized the United States for denying the legitimacy of Maduro.
Lula said he argued with the United States and fellow Social Democrats over Maduro’s legitimacy and the “900 sanctions” Venezuela faces. “I think it is really absurd that they deny that Maduro is president of Venezuela,” he said.
The South American presidents, all except Peru, were to discuss the launch of a cooperation bloc in place of the defunct UNASUR, created in 2008 during the previous presidency of Lula with the leftist leaders at the time of Venezuela and Argentina, Hugo Chavez and Cristina Kirchner, respectively.
The organization floundered when several South American countries elected right-wing governments, creating diplomatic fissures on the continent.