Brazil will deem priority to Africa

Brazil will deem priority to Africa

Reporting from Rio da Janerio, Brazil

In 22 August, during the launch of the book “Brazil in the world. 8 years of Lula’s government”, the former Brazilian president remarked that if he is reelected next October, his country’s foreign policy will be once again “active and haughty”. He emphasized that Brazil never sought to be hegemonic but rather proactive, respectful, supportive and an equal to other States in the global arena, while, on the other hand, the current international relations reflected the loss of Itamaraty’s diplomacy. The latest has been experienced at the regional and international level in these four years of the Bolsonaro government.

Similarly, the leader of the Workers’ Party dedicated words of praise to the Mother Continent and affirmed that “Africa will once again have a priority place” in his next government. Lula recognised the importance of the African peoples in Brazil’s past, present and future. He even proudly recalled that he was invited by the then Senegalese president, Abdoulaye Wade: “the first black president in the history of Brazil”, due to the his close relationship with Africa, during his two terms as Head of State of the South American giant.

“My relationship with Africa was not commercial, it was based on trust and gratitude”

Lula da Silva, São Paulo, 2022

Lula in São Tome and Principe. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert (2003)

Cover of the book “The Brazil in the World. 8 years of the Lula´s Government” (Stuckert, 2022)

The book “Brazil in the world” is a photographic journey through the most outstanding milestones of Brazilian foreign policy between 2003-2011, of Lula’s photographer in charge, Ricardo Stuckert.  It is worth noting that Stuckert was the person who accompanied Lula during the most critical hours prior to his arrest by the Paraná state justice system, which he was acquitted by the Brazilian Supreme Court a couple of years later. Lula spent 580 days in prison for a clear case of Lawfare that tried to avoid the inevitable: his arrival to the presidency of Brazil, for the third time.

Celso Amorim, Lula’s two-term chancellor (2003-2011), said about the book: “This is not the balance of Brazilian foreign policy in the eight years since the beginning of the first term, in January 2003. What we have here is a testament to Brazil’s potential as a country and as a people.”

First trip to Africa

Lula assumed his first mandate on January 1, 2003, and in the same year he was already setting foot on African lands and opening embassies in that continent: intertwining relations and settling historical debts with Africa. It is possible to see it again in the book; in his first visit to Africa as president of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Lula visits five countries: São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. For Lula, deepening relations with Africa was “a moral duty and a strategic need for Brazil”.

At that time, Brazil was holding the presidency of the Community of the Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP).

Historical debt with Africa

In his message to his African counterparts, Lula emphasized the fraternal commitment as the redemption of the social debt incurred in slavery, one of the darkest chapters in the history of humanity. Africa and Brazil remain united by strong cultural affinities and common objective of making cooperation for social and economic development of Latin America and Africa regions. On his first trip to Africa, Lula expresses to African leaders his country’s commitment to promote inclusion and social equity. The current PT presidential candidate pointed out: “Brazil wants fraternal partnership to establish a fair international policy, for equal opportunities, by democratic multilateral organisations”.

“That first trip to the African continent was the fulfilment of a historic commitment of my party and government. And I would say, of all the people, regardless of the political parties in Brazil, I respect the African continent and I know above all that Brazil owes Africa an unpayable debt: our country is made up of African brothers and sisters, who made Brazil that we are today.”

Lula da Silva, 2022

South – South Cooperation

During his first two governments, Lula visited Africa several times. His travels were not limited to Portuguese-speaking countries, he also visited: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, among other countries. In addition, the leader of the Brazilian Workers’ Party developed a broad South-South Cooperation agenda to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between Latin America and Africa. We highlight the role of the South American giant in the economic integration block made up of the five largest emerging economies in the world, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), and its leadership within the framework of the African Union and the Summit of America South – Africa (ASA).

On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean there is a lot of “saudade” for the reestablishment of Brazil-Africa relations. Many good things seem to be coming soon.

Micaela Ovelar
Political scientist and international adviser, Argentine-Venezuelan scholar, feminist and social activist. Micaela has a B.A. in Political Science, a Masters in International Relations; with studies in issues of gender, government, democracy, and the state. She was the international relations adviser of president Hugo Chavez and has worked with the Venezuelan government for the last 15 years.She is also an independent journalist, producer, and in Film & TV Direction from EMPA (Venezuela). She was a producer and commentator at Radio Alba Ciudad (Caracas). Micaela worked as translator and transcriptionist on “South of the Border” by Oliver Stone, archival research on "Silvio Rodríguez. My first calling" by Catherine Murphy, and as a journalist for “Correo del Alba.” (Bolivia-Venezuela).

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June 2023