On Friday, there will be a meeting. The postponed visit of Alberto Fernández has not yet been rescheduled by the US president.
This Thursday, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, will arrive in Washington for a brief trip that will be of major regional significance. Joe Biden will meet with him at the White House, and the two of them will work to develop a list of shared objectives that will make the head of the PT the preferred partner of the United States in Latin America.
Thus, Biden details the invitation he gave to the Brazilian shortly after his victory over Jair Bolsonaro, who was a close friend of the late President Donald Trump and had tense ties to the current White House chief. Just over a month after Lula took office on January 1, he received it.
The invitation that Biden extended to President Alberto Fernández in July of last year had to be postponed since the Democratic leader was pregnant with Covid. It was never scheduled again, but Ambassador Jorge Argüello is still optimistic that it will happen.
This Thursday at 4:00 p.m. local time, or 6:00 p.m. in Argentina, Lula will arrive and spend the night at Blair House, a mansion next to the White House where distinguished visitors typically stay the night before visiting the American president. Ex-president Mauricio Macri stayed there when he traveled to see Donald Trump.
On Friday morning, the Brazilian will open the official proceedings by welcoming democrat leaders, including Bernie Sanders, and trade union leaders to Blair House. There will be a meeting with Biden at the White House at 5:30 p.m., Argentina time. He will go back to Brazil on Saturday morning.
Some of the interests shared by both leaders were revealed to Clarion by James Green, a professor of Brazilian history and culture at Brown University and the head of the Washington Brazil Office’s board of directors.
“The defense of democracy against the extreme right, the fight against fake news, and an ultra-conservative sociopolitical agenda to address long-standing manifestations of socioeconomic inequality are among the issues that the two countries have in common and are priorities for this bilateral meeting. Every president like him considers this to be of the utmost importance, and I believe there is much to be shared on this front, he said.
The protection of the Amazon from unauthorized mining and deforestation, as well as measures to combat global warming, are all examples of similar environmental concerns, he continued.
Joe Biden, the president of the United States. AFP image
As a leader of the Global South and a major international player, Lula, on the other hand, “seeks to restore Brazil’s worldwide relevance.” The United States is still a significant nation for Brazil, he continued.
According to Bruna Santos, a senior consultant at the Brazil Institute of the Wilson Center, “the meeting serves Lula for two of his goals. The first is to make Brazil once again a powerful player in international affairs, and the second is to elevate Brazil to a position of prominence in environmental diplomacy.
“For Lula, the meeting’s symbolism—which gives him a chance to show his leadership and dedication to democratic ideals—is its main significance. Lula has the chance to be seen as a defender of democracy in light of the recent events in Brazil, he continued.
Regional guru Lula
Argentina is keeping a close eye on the meeting while still waiting for Fernández to be invited. The government is losing out by giving the prisoners of the Frente de Todos unclear leadership and using “hostile rhetoric” against democratic institutions like the Justice, according to human rights organizations. The government is being urged to “respect democratic institutions and the separation of powers,” according to the State Department.
At the time, the Argentine believed that by interacting with figures from across the whole ideological spectrum on the continent, he could serve as a benchmark for moderate progressivism in the region before the United States. But Lula appears to be the contact Washington is searching for just now.
According to Green, “I can only presume that the Biden administration realizes that Lula will become an essential role in the leadership process of the progressive countries of Latin America and the Caribbean since it is unclear what the outcome of the October elections in Argentina could be. When it comes to coordinated attempts in Latin America to establish more equal power relations with the United States, it will be important to see how Lula positions himself in respect to other left-wing governments, such Chile and Colombia.
Biden has a new partner in the area, according to Santos. He now believes that Lula will eventually play the role of regional interlocutor that Alberto Fernández previously held. For Biden, it’s critical that the government defend democracy and human rights consistently, he said.
“The climate agenda and environmental diplomacy are, of course, a confluence of goals between Lula and Biden. There is currently less conflict between Argentina and the US than in the past. I don’t believe Biden is evaluating the area from a left-right or historical perspective. Their current goal is to protect democracy in a world where democracy and authoritarianism are in competition.