Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended his “diversification” diplomacy and said that Brazil must extend “a friendly hand” to all Latin American countries. He recalled that some interest groups in Brazil wanted him to strongly confront the governments of Bolivia and Paraguay because of differences over energy policies.
“Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy and must be the first to extend a hand” to the poor countries of the region said the Brazilian president during the celebration of the “Diplomat’s Day” at Itamaraty Palace, seat of Brazilian Foreign Affairs ministry.
He said that back in May 2006 when Bolivia nationalized its natural gas, there were sectors in Brazil that demanded strong measures against president Evo Morales.
“Everybody recalls that some people wanted me to jump to Evo’s throat when he said the natural gas was his, and I didn’t proceed because I believed that the gas certainly belonged to Bolivia and that we should pay a fair price”.
Lula also mentioned the experience with Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, who claimed a higher price for power generated in the bi-national hydroelectric dam at Itaipu.
“Everybody wanted me to jump to the throat of Lugo, to squash Lugo when he was only asking for some more money from Itaipu, and I sincerely believed they needed it.”
In both cases Brazil was paying well below international prices, based on contracts dating back several decades.
Further on Lula defended his “diversification” diplomacy policy started in 2003, with a greater emphasis in relations with developing countries.
He argued that he was only trying to modify a long established tradition of giving priority to western powers.
“That was another criticism that signaled those years mainly for traveling to Africa; people believed and wanted me to make traditional diplomacy by visiting New York, London, Washington, and Rome. And I will be ending my mandate having visited 25 African countries”, underlined Lula.
The Brazilian president is scheduled to travel again to the black continent next month, but this time to South Africa for the World Cup, which as usual has Brazil as one of the favorites.