The president-elect of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is going to boost the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), at a time when US leadership is “trapped,” former foreign minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño told Sputnik.
“At this moment when the US is trapped, feeling that its hegemony, especially its economic hegemony, is declining; in the military field it still has an extraordinarily significant strength… in these circumstances, the arrival of Lula is important because it will allow, among other things, the resumption of BRICS, which is a union of the largest emerging economies in the world,” explained the former foreign minister of Ecuador, who served in that capacity from 2013 to 2016, during the government of Rafael Correa (2007-2017).
Patiño, who also served as minister of defense during 2016-2017, believes that Brazil will give a boost to BRICS, including countries like Argentina that has applied for full membership, at a time when the US is “trying to define a global anti-China and anti-Russia strategy.”
What are the implications of Lula’s victory for the region?
I believe it has many implications. Brazil is an extraordinarily large country, with a lot of influence in Latin America and in the world. Lula’s victory almost completes a map of progressive and left-wing countries in Latin America, with the exception of Ecuador, Uruguay, and Paraguay. This would imply the possibility of resumption of UNASUR [Union of South American Nations].
Lula’s triumph makes us very happy, but we are concerned that [President Jair] Bolsonaro has so many votes. This means that we have to reflect on what we are doing and what we are not doing. We have to think about what the fascist and retrograde factions are doing in the region and what we are not being able to understand, or grasp where that strategy is, because it is impossible that a country like Brazil, where with the governments of Lula [2003-2011] and Dilma [Rousseff, 2011-2016] millions of people came out of poverty, there are so many people who still vote for Bolsonaro. That implies that we have to review that situation. However, with a margin of two percent of the votes, Brazil returns to a progressive position in Latin America, which is very important if we add Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and other countries that are in that line of action.
With Lula’s leadership, how would the region be in relation to the US, China, and Russia?
At this moment the US is trapped, feeling that its hegemony, especially its economic hegemony, is declining; in the military field it still has an extraordinarily significant strength. There is a document that has just been released by the White House, in which [US President] Joe Biden has declared that China and Russia are the enemies of the world. He says that they [China and Russia] want to have a greater influence in the world and the US is not going to allow them to do so. Biden says that the US is going to make alliances with those who are against this, to prevent China and Russia from having global influence, but of course, the US is doing it very late, because China has long been the country with the largest trade in the world, the largest gross domestic product, and therefore the United States is no longer the dominant country from the economic point of view. Technologically, China is surpassing it. We cannot say that the US global hegemony has ended, but there is evidently a trend towards a clear limitation and reduction of its influence in the world.
In these circumstances, the arrival of Lula is important because it will allow, among other things, the resumption of BRICS, which is the union of the largest emerging economies in the world. BRICS had a very regular functioning since 2009; now their interrelation has declined a little, but I believe that Brazil is going to give a new boost to BRICS, including some other countries, like Argentina. BRICS appears as an alternative in economic and political terms. That is a lot to say, because evidently the world is beginning to function much more in terms of blocs. This was first decided by the G7, when it united several countries to form a bloc. The G7 said: in the UN we do not have the majority to lead the world, so we set up the G7. The developed Western countries, which have imperialist and colonialist positions, began to decide outside the United Nations. The BRICS said something similar: here we are a group of countries that do not have the same level of development as the G7, but we should have the decision to have our own autonomy, not to let the G7 impose everything on us. The BRICS almost stopped working with Bolsonaro’s arrival to power and would be rekindled with Lula.
What other changes could be there in Lula’s foreign policy?
Bolsonaro was a puppet of [Donald] Trump, but whether it is Trump or Biden in the White House, the power is already decided by others, not the president. It is decided by the US military-industrial complex. But the president of Brazil can signify a Latin Americanist and Caribbean position of a different nature.
How do you observe the situation of the Latin American left?
In spite of the fact that the left leaderships are not the same, in South America there are only three countries now that are not [governed by the] left: Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador. In Central America there has been a significant progress. I see a fundamental headway of the left in Latin America. There is a clear presence of a new cycle in Latin America, which started in 1998 with [Hugo] Chávez [president of Venezuela between 1999 and 2013, when he passed away] and which became strong in the first decade of this century, with great leaderships. This time, the cycle has more moderate leaderships, but which includes three countries that had not managed to get out of right-wing governments [the last time]: Mexico, Peru, and Colombia. Nobody dreamed for a very long time that progressive governments could come to power in these countries.
This has generated a very different configuration in Latin America. Yet we must not rest on our laurels; we have to think about what we can do for our peoples so that they can sustain themselves. This can be achieved only by building popular power and clear explicit alliances with progressive productive sectors, and also by working on communication, so that the hegemonic media cannot conquer the brains and hearts of the people. This is the only way by which we can ensure that this cycle does not end soon.
(Sputnik) by Lucía Barrios
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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