Mercosul: Lula’s presence in Argentina strains bilateral relations with Brazil | International

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is in Buenos Aires. His presence at a large demonstration in Praça de Maio, convened to commemorate the return to democracy in Argentina and the second anniversary of the Government of Alberto Fernández, strained relations with Brazil. The Brazilian chancelaria suspended the presence of the dome of presidents of Mercosul, scheduled for the next sixth-fair in Brasília. Or Itamaraty, who exercises the presidency pro tempore do bloco, also made up of Uruguay and Paraguay, informed its Argentine partners that all the meetings will be by videoconference. Two versions circulate through the corridors of the Palácio do Planalto, seat of the Brazilian presidency. At first, official, mention questões sanitárias. Secondly, unofficially, it is political, and I am afraid to see with an alleged ill-being with Buenos Aires because of an ugly invitation to Lula, who at the beginning of 2022 must decide that he will run for president against Bolsonaro.

“Na noite de terça-feira, o Itamaraty made official to the Argentine chancelaria the decision to carry out the dome virtually due to the new micron strain” of the coronavirus, which has already been detected in less than six Brazilian patients, according to a source from the Government of Alberto Fernández. He also denied that the suspension was related to Lula’s visit. “As many versions, or the invitation to Lula, is restricted to the celebration of the International Day of Human Rights and the democratic recovery in our country, two central pillars of modern Argentine history,” he affirmed. Dez de Dezembro is a great date of symbolism in Argentina. Exactly 38 years ago, President Raúl Alfonsín was sworn in as president after a bloody dictatorship. Since then, this date has been celebrated as a return to democracy, coinciding with the day that the United Nations General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the conjuncture justifies, the Argentine Governments also celebrate their own anniversary. On the night of the sixth fair, or Alberto Fernández decided to celebrate it with all his pomp, in a climate of relaunching his management.

By isso, this one in Praça de Maio não só or president, as well as his vice, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and two ex-presidents of Mercosul partners: Lula and Uruguayan José Pepe Mujica. The parties and social movements that support Casa Rosada will promise to “sweep” the square with an exhibition of strength and unity of the governing Peronism. After defeat in the parliamentary elections of November 12, when the government supporters lost control of the Senate and kept a smaller minority in the Chamber of Deputies, or the Government redoubled efforts to recover the Peronist mystique. A Praça de Maio is the place indicated for isso.

More to Lula’s chegada não caiu bem for the Bolsonaro Government. The Brazilian president is bothered by the repercussions of his recent international trips because it will certainly be his main obstacle to his re-election. While Bolsonaro was ignored by the European leaders at the G20 meeting held in Rome in November, Lula was received a few days later with chef d’état honors by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. During his European trip, the former Brazilian president also met with the president of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and with him, future chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz. Lula gave a speech and was applauded at a meeting of progressive parties held in the European Parliament. While he was harvesting the fruits of his meetings with these leaders of Europe, Bolsonaro was meeting with chefs from authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

Could it be that it is possible, no meanwhile, that the reason for making the meeting of the Mercosul leadership virtual has been to health? According to the official version, Bolsonaro is concerned with the spread of the micron variant of the coronavirus, and therefore decided to prevent the circulation of foreign delegations in Brasília. Sometimes it arises because the Brazilian president is a declared denier of the pandemic. Bolsonaro opposes measures that restrict the entry of international passengers and insists on not being vaccinated against covid-19. Days ago, he even submitted to the recommendation of the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) to require proof of complete vaccination to allow foreigners to enter Brazil.

There is tension in Mercosul at a time when Brazil and Argentina are trying to approximate their positions. In October, both agreed to a 10% reduction in the Common External Tariff applied by Mercosul on imports from outside the block, which they now pay an average of 13%. It was the first sign of distension after a year marked by claims of greater commercial opening and threats of rupture launched mainly by Uruguay and Paraguay, the two minor partners of the block. Or Uruguay was the one that most escou a corda, with its decision to advance in bilateral trade agreements without the consensus of two other countries, or that the Mercosul statute prohibits. In September, the Government of Luis Lacalle Pou was even longer and announced or began negotiations to date a Free Trade Agreement with China.

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