Brazil’s Lula meets Cuban leader, slams ‘illegal’ US embargo

Brazilian President Lula da Silva, a leftist, denounced US treatment of the Caribbean country. Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative who succeeded Lula, had backed the embargo.Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, met with Miguel Diaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, on Saturday, reviving relations between the two countries. This is the first trip a Brazilian president has made to a Caribbean country in nine years.

Brazil's Lula meets Cuban leader, slams 'illegal' US embargo
Brazil’s Lula meets Cuban leader, slams ‘illegal’ US embargo

In order to take part in the summit of the Group of 77 or G77 emerging economies plus China, President Lula came to Havana. Founded in the 1960s, this worldwide organization met in Cuba a few days before the UN General Assembly in New York.

Lula claims US policy has made Cuba a “victim.”

Lula underlined his worry over the US-led embargo on Cuba during his speech at the summit, stressing that the island country is a “victim” of an unfair economic blockade. “We reject Cuba’s inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism,” he continued.

Brazil and Cuba have long-standing historical and demographic ties, and Cubans enjoy Brazilian soap operas and their rich musical traditions. Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba, and Lula have a long friendship history.

Brazil and Cuba maintained strong relations throughout Lula’s earlier presidency from 2003 until 2016. Jair Bolsonaro, a conservative who served as Brazil’s final president from 2019 to 2022, vehemently opposed the Cuban regime and supported the US embargo.

Brazil's Lula meets Cuban leader, slams 'illegal' US embargo

President Lula and Diaz-Canel were scheduled to talk about Cuba’s $540 million (E505 million) debt to Brazil’s development bank during their meeting.

The majority of this debt was accumulated while Mariel, Cuba’s Port, which is located about 40 kilometers (24 miles) west of Havana, was undergoing massive construction. In 2018, Cuba stopped making payments, and Bolsonaro’s allies often criticized Lula over this matter.

To quell opposition criticism and increase Brazilian corporations’ use of the port’s facilities for facilitating international trade with the Caribbean and the US, a satisfactory resolution of this debt situation is essential.

Discussions about enhancing trade ties between the two countries were also on the agenda. With Cuba in 2022, Brazil reported a trade surplus of almost $287 million (E268 million), primarily from the export of rice, poultry meat, and vegetable fats and oils.

One of the country’s worst economic crises since the Cuban Revolution in 1959 is currently occurring in Cuba. But since September 2021, when small and medium-sized private firms were made lawful, Cuba has been undergoing a change that has seen the emergence of over 8,000 businesses.

Brazil's Lula meets Cuban leader, slams 'illegal' US embargo

Diaz-Canel reported that he had “warm and fruitful” official chats with Lula after their encounter. According to Diaz-Canel, the two presidents inked three bilateral agreements in fields including science and health.

With a focus on the Global South, Lula’s plan seeks to establish Brazil as a major actor in the fight for a more just international system. After his trip to Cuba, he will proceed to New York, where he will speak at the UN General Assembly and meet with President Joe Biden individually.

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