Brazil’s Lula makes plea for regional integration at LatAm summit

Buenos Aires, Jan 24 (EFE).- Regional integration is the only way to transform Latin America’s “unacceptable reality” of inequality, poverty and hunger, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said here Tuesday at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Lula’s appearance at the gathering in Buenos Aires marked Brazil’s return to CELAC after an absence of three years under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

In his previous tenure as head of state, from 2003-2011, Lula played an important role in the establishment of CELAC and he recalled Tuesday that Brazil was traditionally a strong proponent of regional integration.

“The regrettable exception was recent years, when my predecessor made the inexplicable decision to withdraw Brazil from CELAC,” he said, referring to the man he succeeded on Jan. 1.

“The world is living through multiple crises. Pandemic, climate change, natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, pressures on food and energy security, and threats to representative democracy as a form of political and social organization,” Lula said.

For Latin America, the most urgent task is halting the growth in inequality, poverty and hunger, the 77-year-old president said.

The “spirit of dialogue, solidarity and cooperation” that surrounded the birth of CELAC in 2011 is “more necessary” than ever “in a region of the size and importance of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Lula said.

By relying on “pragmatic sense” and by cooperating with UN bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization, 33-member CELAC “can contribute much to the solution” of global problems, he said.

Likewise, Lula said, CELAC can aid in the “construction of a peaceful global order” through the “reinforcement of multilateralism.”

In that vein, the Brazilian leader called for the deepening of ties with partners such as the European Union, China, India and – “very especially” – the African Union.

Lula thanked the governments of the CELAC member-states for their support on Jan. 8, when thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the seats of Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidency in Brasilia in hopes of toppling the new government.

“It is important to emphasize that we have a peaceful region, that repudiates extremism, terrorism and political violence,” he said. EFE


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