Tag Archives: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Reuters – Brazil wants Venezuela election if Chavez dies

By Brian Winter and Ana Flor

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA | Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:59pm EST

(Reuters) – Brazil is urging Venezuela’s government to hold elections as quickly as possible if President Hugo Chavez dies, senior officials told Reuters on Monday, a major intervention by Latin America’s regional powerhouse that could help ensure a smoother leadership transition in Caracas.

Brazilian officials have expressed their wishes directly to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Chavez has designated Maduro as his preferred successor if he loses his battle with cancer.

“We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible,” one official said. “We think that’s the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil’s main desire.”

Chavez is in Cuba receiving cancer treatment and he has not been seen in public for a month, prompting speculation that he is near death.

Venezuela’s constitution says a new election must be held within 30 days if the president dies. Before leaving for Cuba, Chavez urged Venezuelans to back Maduro should the cancer leave him incapacitated, and Chavez’s backers and the opposition appear to be preparing behind the scenes for a possible new vote.

Yet some foreign officials in the region, and some activists in more radical Venezuelan opposition circles, have privately expressed fears that the government could bend the rules if it wants, especially if polls show Maduro might lose.

The Supreme Court’s controversial decision to postpone Chavez’s inauguration last week reinforced concerns that loopholes could be used to keep the current government in power.

Venezuela’s government said Sunday that Chavez’s health has improved somewhat, though his lung infection still requires special care.

Brazil’s stance on Venezuela is critical because it is by far Latin America’s biggest country and it enjoys growing economic and diplomatic clout in the region.

Its president, Dilma Rousseff, is a moderate leftist whose party has strongly supported Chavez over the past decade. Yet she is also perceived as neutral and democratic enough to be a credible broker in helping Venezuela chart a path forward if a political crisis erupts.

The Brazilians have also communicated their desire for quick elections via “emissaries” to main opposition leader Henrique Capriles. By clearly supporting a democratic solution now, they hope to dissuade Capriles and others from inciting civil unrest in the event Chavez dies, the officials said.

“We’re working very hard to ensure there’s peace,” the first official said.

Capriles, whom most assume would run against Maduro in an election, has so far taken a relatively subdued tone despite the political uncertainty. He said last week that Chavez’s supporters would “win” politically if there was a violent confrontation.


Brazil is keeping the United States apprised of its efforts, and is hoping to convince Washington to allow it to take the lead in managing a potential leadership transition in Venezuela. Chavez is one of the world’s most vocal anti-U.S. leaders, and the Brazilian officials said they fear that any direct U.S. intervention in Venezuelan affairs could backfire.

Venezuela’s opposition is demanding that Chavez step aside and name a caretaker president while he recovers – but those complaints have so far been ignored by governments around the region, including the Rousseff administration.

Brazil’s push for quick elections in a post-Chavez Venezuela marks another important step in its emergence as a diplomatic heavyweight and champion of democracy in Latin America. Rousseff led a strong regional backlash last year when Paraguay’s Congress impeached and removed then-President Fernando Lugo.

Under Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil also took a proactive role in trying to resolve a political crisis in Honduras following the ouster of former President Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

Previously, Brazil had been more shy about taking the lead in regional crises, preferring to emphasize the right of countries to determine their own fates – long the bedrock principle of Brazilian diplomacy.

Lula, who remains an influential power broker in the region, will travel later this month to Cuba, where some speculate he could meet with Chavez, his longtime friend.

(Editing by Todd Benson and David Brunnstrom)

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La Nacion – Sao Paulo Forum commits to support Hugo Chavez re-election

Last Friday, July 06, the Sao Paulo Forum, a conference of leftist political parties and organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean, endorsed the re-election of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva  also manifested his support to Venezuelan Chief Executive.

The Sao Paulo Forum denied the legitimacy of the new Paraguayan government, led by recently sworn President Federico Franco, and denounced a new rightist counteroffensive in the region, mentioning the deposition of Manuel Zelaya in Hondura in 2009.

Besides supporting Chavez, the Forum agreeded to support Xiomara de Zelaya, candidate in the presidential elections in Honduras, and the Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who is running for re-election in 2013.

The Caracas declaration attacked the interference of the United States in the region, claimed the end of the sanctions to Cuba, and the devolution of the Malvinas islands to Argentina.

I must say, the incongruency of the Brazilian foreign policy is appalling. Brazil – correctly – supported the suspension of Paraguay from Mercorsur on the grounds of the rupture of the democratic process in that country. However, Brazil aupported the Venezuela’s membership in the same organization, forgetting the unconstitutional referendum (April 25, 1999) through which Chavez managed to come up with a new constituion and pack both the Venezuela’s national electoral council and the Congress with his own guys. Not to mention his ruling by decree (granted by the legislature in 2001), and increasing disrespect for civil liberties and human rights.

Read the original article in Spanish below.

Foro de Sao Paulo cierra con compromiso de apoyar reelección de Chávez y desconociendo a Franco

El Foro de Sao Paulo cerró el viernes en Caracas con el objetivo trazado de apoyar la reelección del presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez, quien durante el discurso de clausura de este encuentro de partidos y movimientos de izquierda dijo que ganará “por paliza” los comicios de octubre. Por su parte, la Declaración de Caracas desconoció al “gobierno de facto” presidido por Federico Franco en Paraguay, tras la reciente destitución de Fernando Lugo, y rechazó “una contraofensiva golpista” de la derecha en la región, mencionando también la deposición de Manuel Zelaya en Honduras en 2009.   (AFP)

“La batalla central de los próximos meses es la contienda electoral en Venezuela, que tiene como fecha el 7 de octubre (…) A pocos meses de los comicios, la derecha ya considera como cierta la victoria de Hugo Chávez. Por esta razón, la derecha participa en el proceso electoral, pero preparando las condiciones para desconocer el resultado”, reza la Declaración de Caracas.
“Frente a esta situación, el Foro de Sao Paulo convoca a las fuerzas progresistas y de izquierda a respaldar la democracia venezolana, y a rechazar los intentos de desestabilización de la derecha”, continúa el texto final emitido por el XVIII encuentro del Foro de Sao Paulo, creado en 1990.
Para apoyar la reelección de Chávez, que en los comicios de octubre busca encadenar 20 años en la presidencia de Venezuela, el Foro de Sao Paulo acordó realizar el 24 de julio un ‘Día de Solidaridad Mundial con la Revolución Bolivariana y el comandante Hugo Chávez’.
Ese día, las organizaciones de izquierda que forman parte del grupo realizarán “en las capitales y otras ciudades, actos, mítines, ruedas de prensa y ofrendas florales al Libertador Simón Bolívar”, según una resolución emitida también este viernes en apoyo al gobierno de Venezuela.
“Agradezco mucho al Foro de Sao Paulo su declaración de apoyo a la democracia venezolana, porque hay que recordarlo: ellos (la oposición) tienen un plan ‘b'” de desestabilización, dijo Chávez durante su discurso de cierre del encuentro.
“La oposición estaba sacando sus cuentas de que yo no podría ni caminar ni hablar, que no podría ser candidato ¡Ahora aguántenme!”, dijo el mandatario venezolano, aquejado desde 2011 por un cáncer del que no se conoce su naturaleza ni ubicación.
“Estamos obligados a ganar esa batalla y la vamos a ganar el 7 de octubre, pero la vamos a ganar por paliza, con millones de votos de diferencia”, añadió Chávez, que se medirá al ex gobernador Henrique Capriles Radonski, principal candidato opositor.
El Foro de Sao Paulo también prevé la realización de “un Twittazo mundial con Chávez” en agosto, a través de la cuenta en Twitter del presidente venezolano: @chavezcandanga, y celebrar en septiembre en Caracas un ‘Encuentro Internacional de Solidaridad Mundial de los Pueblos del Mundo con la Revolución Bolivariana Venezolana y el Comandante Hugo Chávez'”.
El ex presidente brasileño Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, que participó en la clausura del Foro a distancia mediante un video, también apoyó la candidatura de Chávez.
“Chávez, cuenta conmigo, cuenta con nosotros desde el PT (Partido de los Trabajadores, de Brasil), cuenta con la solidaridad de la izquierda, de cada demócrata y de cada latinoamericano: tu victoria será nuestra victoria”, dijo Lula, que a la vez pidió a los partidos de izquierda “unidad en la diversidad”.
Aparte del apoyo a Chávez, el Foro acordó respaldar a Xiomara de Zelaya como candidata a las elecciones a la presidencia de Honduras y al mandatario ecuatoriano, Rafael Correa, en su postulación a la reeleeción en 2013.
Durante la última jornada del encuentro, que reunió en Caracas a unos 800 delegados de partidos y organizaciones de izquierda, el grupo también pidió en una resolución a Ecuador que dé asilo político al fundador de Wikileaks, Julian Asssange, actualmente refugiado en la embajada de ese país en Londres.
Por su parte, la Declaración de Caracas desconoció al “gobierno de facto” presidido por Federico Franco en Paraguay, tras la reciente destitución de Fernando Lugo, y rechazó “una contraofensiva golpista” de la derecha en la región, mencionando también la deposición de Manuel Zelaya en Honduras en 2009.
Asimismo, el texto final atacó la injerencia de Estados Unidos en la región y el papel de los medios de comunicación, a la vez que reivindicó pedidos como el fin del bloqueo a Cuba o la devolución de las Malvinas a Argentina.
“La Declaración de Caracas (…) es como una agenda mundial, ahí está el mundo contenido. Cuando nos despidamos hoy y mañana lleguemos allá y más allá, lo (importante es) lo que vamos a hacer para avanzar en el cumplimiento de algunos objetivos de esa lucha”, reflexionó Chávez.
Entre las personalidades que acudieron al Foro destacan la premio Nóbel de la Paz, la guatemalteca Rigoberta Menchú, el líder de la izquierda radical francesa, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, y la ex senadora colombiana, Piedad Córdoba.

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COHA – The Latin American Left: A Work in Progress

This analysis was prepared by Dr. W. John Green, Associate Director of and Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

May 23, 2012

When Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner recently expropriated the Spanish oil company YPF, condemnation quickly blared out from the usual quarters. In a subsequent piece for the Washington Post, Juan Forero declared that the Latin American “radical left” is at a “crossroads,” and rounded up a posse of commentators to articulate some fairly predictable claims. Arturo Porzecanski, an Uruguayan economist at American University, asserted that “Populism is running out of gas in Latin America.” Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue characterized policies in Argentina, Venezuela, and Ecuador as attempts to scrape the bottom of the populist/leftist policy barrel, and as signs that such movements are “in disarray.”  Rather than standing at a simple crossroads, however, the Latin American Left most recently finds itself deep within a labyrinth of winding policy paths, and has set out to explore many of them simultaneously.

In the early 1990s, the lords of policy dwelling in the capitals of the Western Hemisphere declared a “consensus” about how to correct what Teddy Roosevelt might have called “chronic wrong-doing” in Latin America. These grandiose sins included populist and leftist politics, government interference in the sacred marketplace, and the economic nationalism of import substitution industrialization, among others. Such policies, it was argued, resulted in political and social instability, inflation, and reactionary military regimes. This new general understanding, known as the “Washington Consensus,” championed neoliberal market “reforms” (a euphemism for privatization), and repeatedly insisted on the superiority of free trade policies. The neoliberal champions of the market also defended a bloodless and “institutionalized” version of democracy to provide “good governance.”  The discussion was supposed to be over forever, amen.

Yet as George Philip and Francisco Panizza note in their new book, The Triumph of Politics: The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, “fundamental ideological debate has returned to the region” since the 1998 election of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Chávez, along with Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who each self-identify as “twenty-first century socialists,” present a “left-wing” critique of the Consensus.  Their competing agenda is based on a blend of old, supposedly discredited ideas and practices, and new ideas and tactics that “together form a distinctive political brew.” While Philip and Panizza acknowledge other electoral successes on the Latin American Left over the last decade, their subjects represent “a particular kind of left,” more “personalist” and less “institutional.” Other leftist leaders, such as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and José “Pepe” Mujica of Uruguay, are “bridge-builders” who “have sought to construct broad political alliances and promote inclusive politics by working in the system rather than against it.” In contrast, Chávez, Morales, and Correa are “trench-diggers” who work to “de-legitimize traditional parties as self-serving partycracies” whose leaders are “corrupt defenders of oligarchic interests.”

The key point is that the Latin American Left these days is a diverse place. For the Washington policy establishment, as it looks to Latin America, there is a “good” Left, (the “bridge builders,”) a “bad” Left (the “trench diggers,”) and a “worst” Left, represented by the brothers Castro in Cuba, with their low-rent authoritarianism and clunky command economy, widely recognized even on the Left as a policy dead end. Whether one points to Lula in Brazil, Mujica in Uruguay, Ollanta Humala in Peru, the Kirschners in Argentina, Chávez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, or even prominent leftist also-rans like Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and Antanas Mockus in Colombia, the democratically elected leftist leaders in Latin America are all seeking solutions to the long-term problems of poverty and economic inequality.

It is also important to remember that this general policy discussion is now taking place in the context of continued world economic fragility and a global slump. The U.S. economy presently languishes in neutral, technically no longer in recession, but with intolerably high unemployment rates. European leaders seem unable to face their own devastating rates of unemployment in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland, while growth in China, India, and Brazil slows. Yet big portions of the U.S. and European policy elite refuse to recognize this overall crisis of “really existing” capitalism. Incidentally, historians will point out, Cassandra-like, that we have been here before, when the neoclassical economic order of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries collapsed in the late 1920s. Then, as now, defenders of classical economics refused to acknowledge the devastating effects of austerity politics, and the world capitalist economy was only saved by the stimulus of World War II. It is no surprise, therefore, that some U.S. commentators on Latin America continue to thunder and rumble about the folly and sins of all who refuse to bow down to the crushing, self-serving logic of the Washington Consensus, reminiscent of late Byzantine emperors whose power did not extend beyond the walls of Constantinople. In many ways, it can be likened to a zombie policy, perpetuated in part by Washington’s general disinterest in all things Latin American since 9/11. Outside Washington, however, the world moves on.  The Left around the globe continues to struggle to come up with viable solutions to the excesses of the market economy, especially the concentration of wealth.  The fact that they have yet to solve such problems does nothing to mitigate another fact: the neoclassical/neoliberal economic orthodoxy which has dominated policy discussions since the 1980s now crumbles around us.

Certainly, many of the current leaders on the Latin American Left have reenacted some of the more unsavory populist shenanigans of days gone by, including presidentialism, unsustainable reliance on oil and gas revenues, and a lack of infrastructure investment (though the last, of course, is one of Washington’s failings as well.) Their existence has contributed to the polarization of politics (though such polarization stops short of violent counterrevolution). They can also be accused, at times, of an overreliance on plebiscite governance, thin respect for constitutional norms and institutions, and attempts to intimidate the media. But the continued electoral strength of the Latin American Left belies the assertion that it is “running out of gas.”  Indeed, there are other reasons that populist and leftist movements keep reoccurring, beyond charisma and personalism. These include the ongoing problems of social and economic inequality, grinding poverty, and stagnant middle classes instinctively aware of the expanding wealth at the top of the social ladder. A lot of ideas are in play, old and new, in different countries. Expropriations like that of Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina are popular because they underscore the leftist sensitivity to demands for social justice that has so often animated populist movements in Latin America. In this vein, Philip and Panizza’s robust study avoids the hyperventilation that often accompanies discussions of Chávez, Morales, Correa, and their ideological brethren. They demonstrate that what these leaders really signify is a competing model of democracy, which certainly has its warts, but represents more than mere revamped populist caudillismo. They also capture some of the worthy spirit of political and economic experimentation currently being conducted within the Latin American Left.

One thing is clear: the region will not be coming back into the neoliberal fold anytime soon.  Increasing levels of democracy make social “injustice” harder to sustain; the political fix is harder to maintain and enforce. Leaving aside the somewhat unlikely return of military governments and overt repression (Honduras is an outlier here, though Guatemala and El Salvador are also problem cases for the idea of a solid block of Latin American democracies), the experiments will continue. People around the world still very much want to construct more sustainable and democratic economic systems, where markets and private property, whatever their imperfections, can adapt and coexist with the moral sensibilities of social and economic justice.

What remains unclear is exactly what the U.S. role will be. As American influence continues to contract in Latin America, there will be new opportunities for policy experimentation in Washington. But whether such experimentation will mean renewed attempts at maintaining hemispheric hegemony, a resurrection of long-forgotten “good neighbor” policies, continued neglect mixed with more failed drug policies, or something completely new and creative, is hard to say.

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