(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global)
By José Luis Granados Ceja
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, (venezuelanalysis.com ) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro travelled to Brazil as part of an official visit to meet with his counterpart Luiz Inácio“Lula” da Silva where the pair discussed regional and international cooperation, including the potential entry of Venezuela into the BRICS bloc.
“This is a historic moment. After eight years, president Nicolás Maduro is back to visiting Brazil and we have recovered our right to have a foreign policy with the seriousness we have always had, especially with the countries that border Brazil,” said Lula in a press conference from the capital of Brasilia.
The high-level meeting comes as part of joint efforts to strengthen bilateral ties following the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations after years of tension under Lula's predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who embraced Washington regime change plots against Maduro, backing the so-called“interim government” of opposition figure Juan Guaidó.
“Venezuela was subjected to an extremist ideological model. Suddenly all the doors and windows in Brazil were closed, all of them [...] Using this extremist approach, an attempt was made alongside other governments to impose a non-existent government on the Venezuelan people. Today that is in the past,” said Maduro.
Da Silva reiterated his repudiation of Washington's“maximum pressure” strategy toward Venezuela, mentioning that he fought with other world leaders over their recognition of Guaidó, which he deemed the“most absurd thing in the world”. After taking office in January, Lula restored diplomatic relations with the democratically elected government in Caracas.
“Today, a new era in relations between our countries, between our peoples, begins and in this new era, the building of a new map of cooperation and joint work must accompany it,” said Maduro before expressing Venezuela's desire to apply for membership in the BRICS bloc.
The Brazilian president signalled his support for Venezuela's entry into the development bloc comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The alliance does not have a formal entry process but requires unanimous consent from existing members. While many countries have expressed interest, the last country to formally join was South Africa in 2010.
Lula again expressed his desire to see international trade move away from the hegemony of the US dollar. Dilma Rousseff, Lula's former chief of staff who succeeded him in office, was elected in March as the president of the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS bank.
Under Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, Venezuela has strongly backed counter-hegemonic development efforts and blocs. The US-led sanctions regime on Venezuela is made possible in part due to the dominance of the US dollar as the monetary instrument for international trade.
In a subsequent tweet , Maduro said Venezuela, were it to join BRICS, was ready to contribute to the“construction of the new world geopolitical architecture that is being born.”
Lula's support for Venezuela's bid to join the bloc is an example of his independent foreign policy approach, with the Brazilian president also resisting efforts to join the US and NATO's support for Ukraine despite heavy diplomatic pressure.
Monday's bilateral meeting likewise focused on reactivating trade between the two countries, which fell precipitously after Bolsonaro's recognition of Guaidó, severely impacting populations on both sides of the border. The pair also discussed efforts to advance regional integration.
Lula and Maduro will be joined Tuesday by the rest of South America's leaders for the first regional summit in nine years. That meeting is expected to involve the reactivation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional integration mechanism that was suspended after the exit of various countries in previous years.
Late last year a group of high-profile Latin American political leaders called on South America's sitting presidents to reconstitute UNASUR, arguing conditions were ripe for its return.
Regional integration has been a longstanding goal of politicians throughout Latin America and was a priority for the Chávez government in Venezuela. Efforts to advance in that aim reached a milestone in 2004 with the creation of the South American Community of Nations, the body that would eventually become UNASUR in 2008 and whose constitutive treaty would come into force in 2011 after ratification by member-states.
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