The 18th Summit of G20 (Group of 20) concluded in New Delhi with the adoption of a joint declaration on Sunday, September 10. The declaration reiterated the G20’s commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals and raised the need to reform global decision-making with the inclusion of more voices from the Global South. The two day meeting of world’s top economies concluded with Indian Prime Ninister Narendra Modi handing over the presidency to Brazil which will host the summit next year. The New Delhi summit with the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future” invited the African Union (AU) as its 21st member with its chairperson Azali Assoumani joining the proceedings.
Lula da Silva
On Thursday Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presented an ambitious plan to take the South American country off of the world hunger map. “The problem is not a lack of food, it is not a lack of crops, the problem is that the people do not have enough to buy food,” Lula said in a public event in the city of Teresina. In his speech he reminded that his program to fight poverty has as a connecting axis to address the structural causes of hunger that it is not limited to just economic aid but also must have an articulated policy. For this reason, he stressed that the Bolsa Familia program is not enough and does not represent a definitive solution, but a necessary step to ensure that the wealth produced in the country is distributed more equitably.
The London newspaper Financial Times ran with the following headline last week: “The discreet U.S. campaign to defend Brazil’s election.” The report, written by Michael Stott, Michael Pooler and Bryan Harris, deals with a “pressure campaign” carried out by US officials throughout 2022, in order to prevent the thesis of fraud in the 2022 Brazilian elections from unfolding into a coup d’état. Translated and published in Brazil by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper under the title “U.S. campaigned to defend Brazil from a possible coup by Bolsonaro,” the article in the Financial Times quotes a series of sources in the US government that agreed to talk about the movements carried out.
Surrounded by thousands of supporters, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (known simply as “Lula”) was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2023, at a colorful inauguration ceremony held at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. It was not Lula’s first time assuming the highest office of Latin America’s largest country. He was first sworn in two decades ago and served two terms as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010. The 67-year-old is a true veteran of Brazilian politics: He was the presidential candidate of the leftist Workers’ Party in 1989, 1994 and 1998, losing each time. In the October 2022 elections, he narrowly defeated the right-wing populist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, with 50.9% of the vote.
The government of leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will launch a social program with economic aid to vulnerable families working in the conservation of the Amazon rainforest that is a similar program that was repealed by the previous president, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022). The program, called ‘Bolsa Verde’, an environmental version of the popular ‘Bolsa Familia’, will be implemented in 30,000 families in the Brazilian Amazon, but the government’s intention is to expand it to other biomes, such as the Cerrado (the Brazilian savannah) or the Atlantic Forest, all threatened by deforestation and other environmental crimes.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro traveled to Brazil as part of an official visit to meet with his counterpart Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva where the pair discussed regional and international cooperation, including the potential entry of Venezuela into the BRICS bloc. The high-level meeting comes as part of joint efforts to strengthen their bilateral ties following the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations after years of tension under Lula’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who embraced Washington regime change plots against Maduro, backing the so-called “interim” government of opposition figure Juan Guaidó.
The Amazon rainforest plays a critical role in the mitigation of climate change, but in recent years it has been the target of a steep increase in deforestation. A demarcation decree by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil has established six new Indigenous reserves in the South American country where no mining will be permitted and restrictions will be placed on logging and commercial agriculture. The lands include an extensive area of about 1.5 million acres of Amazon rainforest. The decree was signed on the last day of the 19th Terra Livre gathering, attended by thousands of Indigenous peoples in the country’s capital city of Brasília.
Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Lavrov, arrived in Brasília on Monday for talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Mauro Vieira, in the latest of a series of bilateral encounters likely to ruffle the US. Lavrov arrived just as Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, returned from a state visit to China, and both missions are part of a diplomatic reset Lula has pursued since returning to power this year, as he strives to recover Brazil’s international reputation after his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, dismantled Brazil’s established tradition of cooperation. For Brazil, that means rebuilding and maintaining ties with all partners, regardless of geopolitical tensions elsewhere.
The new president of the BRICS Bank has revealed that the Global South-led bloc is advancing toward de-dollarization, gradually moving away from use of the US dollar. The New Development Bank plans to give nearly one-third (30%) of its loans in the local currencies of the financial institution’s members. Dilma Rousseff, the left-wing former president of Brazil, took over the leadership of the Shanghai, China-based New Development Bank (NDB) this March. The NDB was created in 2014, by the BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, as a Global South-oriented alternative to the US-dominated World Bank, which is infamous for imposing neoliberal economic reforms on impoverished countries, which hinder their development.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed, this Friday (14th), in Beijing, 15 trade and partnership agreements. Lula was received at the Great Hall of the People, seat of the Chinese government. The leaders participated in an expanded meeting with ministers and advisors from both countries and had a private meeting. In this conversation, in addition to bilateral issues, they discussed dialogue and negotiation to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A dinner in honor of Lula was also hosted by Xi Jinping. The terms signed between the two countries include space cooperation agreements, research and innovation, digital economy and fight against hunger, exchange of communication content between the two countries and trade facilitation.
With Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva warning his administration "will not allow illegal mining on Indigenous lands," the government announced Wednesday that environmental special forces destroyed at least one helicopter, an airplane, and a bulldozer used by "mining mafias" in the territory of the Yanomami people in the Amazon rainforest this week. The raids aimed at removing illegal mining operations involving tens of thousands of ore and gold miners from the region began on Monday, just over a month after the leftist president, known as Lula, took office. The Guardian reported that the special forces set up a base near the Uraricoera River, which illegal miners used during right-wing former President Jair Bolsonaro's administration. "The Yanomami want peace—that is all they want. And this is what we are going to give them."
The 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will be held on Tuesday, January 24, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which currently holds the pro tempore presidency of the bloc. The upcoming summit is considered historic especially since it marks the return of Brazil to the regional integration mechanism after three years, and will see the participation of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who played an important role in the creation of the body. In December 2008, Brazil hosted the first summit of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CALC) in Costa do Sauípe, Bahia, an event which helped establish CELAC three years later. The Buenos Aires Summit will also have participation of the majority of the newly-elected progressive leaders leaders of the region. In addition to Argentine President Alberto Fernández and Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Bolivian President Luis Arce, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Honduran President Xiomara Castro, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, among others, have confirmed their participation.
The far-right mob that invaded the federal building, Congress, and the Supreme Court and vandalized government buildings at Three Powers Plaza in Brasília on January 8, demanded a “military intervention” in Brazil. They had set up camps that had assembled in front of army barracks throughout the country since November demanding the “military to overturn” the election of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known as Lula). On November 11, 2022, the commanders of the armed forces released a note giving the coup camps a safe haven—not only physically but also legally. It is important to note two elements of that document: first, the commanders stated, through an illogical interpretation, that the camps in favor of a coup were legal because the protesters were peaceful, and that “both possible restrictions on rights by public agents and possible excesses committed in demonstrations” would be reprehensible, despite the fact that demanding the military to stage a coup is a crime (Article 286).
Belém, Brazil – I inaugurate this new series of columns in a New Year and a new beginning for Brazil with the inauguration of President Lula da Silva. His well-wishers poured out across the country in a revival of hope for Brazil after four years of disastrous rule under his right-wing predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who had fled Brazil for Florida on the eve of Lula’s inauguration. Bolsonaro left behind a mob that rampaged government office buildings before being arrested in large numbers by the police. The mob tactics will not stop Lula, nor will they have a long-term effect in the US, where Donald Trump’s similar maneuvers on January 6, 2021, were also shut down. In both cases, demagogic politicians used social media to rile up a mob; in both cases, the mob was put down within the day. The real issue, in my mind, is not the mob, but the deeper changes in the world that are generating growing tensions in world politics and economy.