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Lula's Brazil to Focus on Relations with South America, Africa & BRICS, Analysts Say

© AFP 2023 / MIGUEL SCHINCARIOLLuiz Inacio Lula da Silva appears behind a Brazilian national flag during a campaign rally in Sao Mateus, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, on October 17, 2022.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva appears behind a Brazilian national flag during a campaign rally in Sao Mateus, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, on October 17, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.10.2022
The 2022 presidential election in Brazil ended in the triumph of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who managed to win 50.9 percent of the vote during the runoff on October 30, narrowly defeating his opponent Jair Bolsonaro, who gained 49.1 percent.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory in the presidential election in Brazil, which was held on Sunday, October 30, is likely to affect the country’s foreign policy, possibly resulting in Brazil forming closer ties with Latin American countries and opening the way for resuming its leading role on environmental issues, experts told Sputnik.
Even before Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) announced Lula's victory over incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, Latin American leaders were already celebrating Lula's lead after the Datafolha polling institute estimated that the final tally would end in Lula's victory.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Argentinian Vice President Cristina Kirchner were among those who rushed to congratulate Lula taking the lead during the vote counting process, with the presidents of Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela following suit later.
Lula's international support was made evident with the prompt recognition of his victory by leaders of the region and countries like Russia, China, France, Canada, the United States, Germany, Portugal, and Spain.
In his first address following his victory, Lula described his plans for Brazil’s foreign policy.
"The world misses Brazil. That sovereign country that spoke on equal terms with the richest and most powerful countries and, at the same time, contributed to the development of the poorest countries,” he said. “The Brazil that supported the development of African countries, that worked for the integration of Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean, that strengthened Mercosur and helped create the G20, Unasur, CELAC, and BRICS. Today, we are telling the world that Brazil is back, that Brazil is too big to be left to the sad role of pariah of the world."
Lula's rhetoric appears to highlight his focus on Latin America and regional integration processes, with Ana Saggioro Garcia, professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and director of the BRICS Policy Center, suggesting that this will become the focal point of the new government's agenda.
"Lula's current mandate is going to be a reconstitution of regional integration. I have no doubt about that," Garcia said.
"Now, with Lula assuming power, Brazil is going to turn to regional integration. So now, Brazil is most likely to enter into more decisive relations with Mercosur, in the first place, and with other South American countries, in the second place. Africa will be in the third place," she added.
According to the professor, the relations with BRICS will also be given a priority.
"BRICS comes after, with a very strong agenda of rebuilding the relations with China," says Garcia, who believes that Brazil has the potential to become a mediator in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia using the BRICS framework.
The professor also partly dismissed claims of Brazil's alleged international isolation under Bolsonaro, noting that the relationship with the BRICS was not damaged during the latter’s presidency.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrates with his wife Rosangela Silva, left, and running mate Geraldo Alckmin, right, after defeating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a presidential run-off to become the country's next president, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.10.2022
Lula da Silva Clinches Third Presidential Term After Besting Bolsonaro in Brazil's Runoff Election
She did, however, acknowledge that Brazil had lost its leading role in some agendas, especially the environmental one.
"Lula will be able - and there is this trend - to rebuild the image of Brazil in the international environmental agenda, particularly in the international climate negotiations,” Garcia suggested. “Lula is going to have a much greater capacity to take up that agenda."
Paulo Velasco, professor of international relations at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), also argued that regional integration is going to become one of the main points on Lula's international agenda.
"Brazil tends to seek to recover its international projection and the region will gain a lot of importance. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil has paid very little attention to its regional surroundings. The relationship with Argentina, especially during the Fernandez administration, has deteriorated dramatically,” he remarked. “Mercosur also went through a period of relative stagnation, very focused only on commercial relations, and lost much of its vigor. And Brazil started acting as a supporting player in the rest of the region, which is very strange."
Velasco also expressed hope that Brazil "will pay more attention to the region, to act more emphatically on regional issues, such as the crisis in Venezuela.”
“Brazil has much to contribute to the development of South America, of Latin America," he added.
In his opinion, BRICS as well as other mechanisms for South-South cooperation are going to feature prominently on Lula’s international agenda.
Velasco also argued that the new Brazilian government should seek a relationship "without ideological pettiness" with China, after the frictions between Brasilia and Beijing that emerged during Bolsonaro’s presidency, and advocated for the continuation of Brazil’s current approach to relations with Russia.
"Russia is a country where one can say that Bolsonaro and Lula's agendas coincide,” Velasco remarked, noting that Brazil tends to maintain a distanced approach to the conflict in Ukraine, favoring a “negotiated solution."
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