Blinken arrives in Brazil amid discord between Lula and Israel

The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, arrived this Tuesday in the middle of Brazil Diplomatic crisis with Israel after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva compared the war in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Blinken arrived in Brasilia late in the day to begin a trip that will also take him to Argentina.

He will meet Lula, a prominent voice of the global south, in the Brazilian capital on Wednesday whose country currently holds the rotating G20 presidency. The conversation promises to be lively.

On Sunday, Brazil’s president accused Israel of committing a “genocide” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and compared the Israeli offensive to the Nazi extermination of Jews.

What is happening to the Palestinian people in Gaza has never happened at any other time in history. “In reality it happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” Lula said.

Israel, that receives military and diplomatic support from the USAHis Chancellor Israel Katz declared him “persona non grata”.

The United States said it disagreed with the comment, Lula’s harshest comment on the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Obviously we disagree with these comments. “We have been very clear that we do not believe there has been a genocide in Gaza,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, for his part, accused his counterpart Katz of making statements They were “liars” and had treated Lula “outrageously”.

The war was triggered by the Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, which killed around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report based on Israeli figures.

Palestinian fighters also captured 250 people, 130 of whom were still kidnapped in Gaza, including 30 who reportedly died in captivity.

In retaliation, Israel launched an offensive to “destroy” Hamas, which at least caused 29,195 dead, mostly women and children.

The foreign minister will also take part in a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday and Thursday, at which his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov is also expected.

No meeting is officially planned and it appears unlikely given the shock caused by the death of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny in prison on Friday.

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Western countries, led by the United States, They blame Russia for his death.

Disagreement over Venezuela

It is Blinken’s first visit to Brazil as foreign ministermost important economic power and most populous country in Latin America.

Relations between the United States and Brazil have improved since the return to power in 2023 of Lula, who succeeded far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who is close to Republican Donald Trump.

The left-wing president, 78, has already traveled to Washington to meet with his counterpart, Democrat Joe Biden.

The two leaders share common goals in the fight against global warming, defending workers’ rights and democratic values, but there are many other issues that separate them. Starting with Ukraine.

Lula rejects the policy of isolating Russia pursued by Washington since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Western powers share responsibility for the war.

The other bone of contention is Venezuela: Unlike the Americans, President Lula has remained silentamid obstacles for some candidates opposed to President Nicolás Maduro to take part in elections scheduled for the second half of the year.

Meeting with Milei

Brazil has “important relationships and connections with Maduro’s authorities and is able to convey important messages to them,” US diplomacy chief for Latin America Brian Nichols said on Friday.

Blinken is also expected to speak to some countries about support for Haiti, which is facing a severe humanitarian and security crisis, at a time when the The international community is having difficulty establishing a police force multinational corporation under the auspices of Kenya.

For Bruna Santos, director of the Wilson Center’s Brazilian Institute, a year into Lula’s term, the Biden administration has understood that “sometimes they can be good friends and allies,” but not always.

Brazilians believe the Biden administration has little interest in Latin America, he adds. “There is a feeling that this relationship is not living up to its potential.”

In Argentina on Friday, Blinken will meet ultra-liberal President Javier Milei, who is often compared to Trump.

With information from AFP.

ORP

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