Biden, Brazil’s Lula vow to defend democracy

Washington, Feb 10 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden and Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began their meeting here Friday by affirming their shared committment to the defense of democracy.

“Both our nations, strong democracies, have been tested of late, very much tested, and our institutions were put in jeopardy,” Biden said in the White House Oval Office.

He was alluding to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump trying to stop the certification of Biden’s election victory and the Jan. 8 coup attempt in Brazil by partisans of former head of state Jair Bolsonaro.

“But both in the United States and Brazil, democracy prevailed,” Biden said.

“We’re the two largest democracies in the hemisphere. Brazil, the United States stand together, we reject political violence, and we put great value in our democratic institutions,” he said.

Lula, speaking through an interpreter thanked Biden for showing “solidarity” by acknowledging his victory in the Oct. 30 election, despite Bolsonaro’s continuing refusal to concede.

The Brazilian leader said that his visit to Washington was part of “repositioning Brazil in a new world of geopolitics.”

“You know, Mr. President, that Brazil self-marginalized itself for four years. The former president didn’t enjoy to keep international relations with any country. His world started and ended with fake news – in the morning, afternoon, and at night,” Lula said.

“Sounds familiar,” Biden said with a laugh, implying a parallel with his own predecessor.

Raising the issue of climate change, Lula decried the escalation of deforestation in the Amazon under Bolsonaro and said that his administration is determined to achieve zero deforestation by 2030.

“The United States and the rest of the world can count on Brazil in the fight for democracy and the fight for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest,” he said.

Lula was accompanied to Washington by Environment Minister Marina Silva, who held talks with Biden’s envoy for climate change, former Secretary of State John Kerry.

In comments to the media after the discussions at the White House, Lula said that he raised with Biden his proposal to form an international contact group comprising the US, Germany, France, Brazil, India and China to mediate the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

“I am convinced that we have to seek a way to end the war. We need a group of negotiators credible to both sides that are capable of ending the war,” the Brazilian president said.

Brazil and India are among a number of nations in the Global South that have sought to remain neutral in the conflict that began on Feb. 24, 2022, with Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

Bolsonaro, a Trump admirer, left Brazil for Florida two days before Lula’s inauguration and has applied to remain in the US for another six months, though Brazilian authorities want to question him about his possible role in the events of Jan. 8.

Lula was not expected to press Biden on the issue of Bolsonaro’s presence in the US and the Brazilian leader made no mention of it in his public remarks. EFE bpm/dr

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