2022 Race

Lula tells foreign press Brazil became a ‘pariah’

lula brazil pariah
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva addressing foreign correspondents on Monday. Photo: Lula/YouTube

Former president and current election frontrunner Lula said on Monday that Brazil has become a “pariah,” in a reference to its international isolation during the Jair Bolsonaro administration and a previous speech by a former foreign affairs minister.

“This country is like a pariah in society. Because no one wants to talk with our government (…) [Mr. Bolsonaro] does not travel anywhere and no leaders want to travel to Brazil,” Lula told foreign correspondents gathered in São Paulo.

In October 2020, then Foreign Affairs Minister Ernesto Araújo said it would be “good” for Brazil to become a pariah, rather than being a guest at the “feast of the self-serving cynicism of the globalists.” Mr. Araújo left the government in March 2021.

Lula spent over one-eighth of eight years as president traveling abroad. He visited 84 different countries, some of them several times.

In his first year as president — and before the pandemic — Mr. Bolsonaro visited 10 countries for a total of 38 days, less than Lula.

In his last trip to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, Mr. Bolsonaro held bilateral meetings with only two foreign leaders: Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and Andrzej Duda of Poland.

Last month, Mr. Bolsonaro hosted President Katalin Novák of Hungary, one of Brazil’s few remaining allies.

Lula also told foreign journalists that climate change underscores the need for new global governance institutions. 

“We need a certain renewal. We need other institutions that act differently than the [International Monetary Fund]. We need more countries participating in the [UN] Security Council. We need new world geopolitics for us to discuss the climate issue.”

Replying to a question about crime and deforestation in the Amazon, Lula pledged to recover the strength of federal environmental agency Ibama, to end illegal gold mining, and to create a ministry for indigenous peoples.

“We don’t need to take down a single tree to plant more soy,” Lula said.

Lula also dismissed the possibility of President Bolsonaro not recognizing his likely electoral defeat.

“He [Bolsonaro] is a sloppy copy of [Donald] Trump,” Lula said, in a reference to the 2020 Capitol riot.

“[But] whoever wins takes office, whoever loses will cry,” he added.