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Lula stages Brazil’s return to the international stage at the UN General Assembly

Lula stages Brazil's return to the international stage at the UN General Assembly

“Our country is back to make its contribution to addressing the world’s great challenges.” That was the theme of the first speech of the experienced President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to the United Nations General Assembly since he left the country after the turbulent Bolsonaro, whose supporters attacked the headquarters of the three branches of government in January, leaving behind images reminiscent of events two years earlier in Washington, has regained power in the second round of elections in October, in which he faces the disqualified Jair. “Brazil is rediscovering itself, the region, the world and multilateralism”stood out in his first appearance at the World Forum in New York since 2009.

Lula recalled his first intervention at the UN General Assembly 20 years ago and said he maintained the same words as then on issues such as climate change, hunger and inequality. Although on this occasion he emphasized the importance Defending democracy and combating disinformation, two challenges he had to face behind closed doors in his first months in office. Lula also traveled to a total of 21 countries in record time to put Brazil back in the middle of the board, a position that Bolsonaro had left behind.

This is how the Brazilian leader managed to position himself as the most famous leader of the so-called “Global South”. In this sense, he defended the recent expansion of the BRICS, the group of emerging economies that will welcome Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt and Ethiopia into its ranks starting next year. Lula’s plans, as he mentioned in his speech, are to make the bloc a force for fairer global trade and defy “the protectionism of rich countries.”

Lula criticized the growth of these countries “based on a model with high emission rates of climate-damaging gases.” “The climate emergency makes it urgently necessary to correct course and implement what has already been agreed.” It is not for nothing that we talk about common but differentiated responsibilities. It is the vulnerable populations in the Global South who are most affected by the loss and damage caused by climate change. The richest 10% of the world’s population is responsible for almost half of all carbon released into the atmosphere. Developing countries do not want to repeat this model,” he explained.

He emphasized correcting the economic imbalances of “neoliberalism” that “far-right adventurers” exploit. For Lula, neoliberalism has “exacerbated the economic and political inequality from which democracies suffer today.” Its legacy is a mass of disenfranchised and marginalized people. Today, hunger affects 735 million people who go to sleep not knowing what they will eat tomorrow. “The world is becoming more unequal every day.”

His speech focused on the ongoing conflicts and wars that threaten global stability, but avoided explicitly condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine: “We must work to create a space for negotiations.” The Brazilian president says he is ready to take part in peace talks because, in his words: “Without space for dialogue, no solution will last.”

Lula warned of the successive crises in the Sahel, the war in Yemen and uncontrolled regime changes, citing the recent case of Gabon. He also condemned the US embargo against Cuba, as well as the discrediting of the UN Security Council and the intentions of some Cuban actors. “Divide the world into blocks”. Like other world leaders, Lula claims that the council’s loss of credibility is due to “the actions of its permanent members waging unauthorized wars with the aim of territorial expansion or regime change.” “His paralysis is the most eloquent proof of the urgent need for reform.”

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