Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has intervened in Argentina’s presidential race, implicitly declaring his support for Sergio Massa ahead of Sunday’s run-off with a veiled jab at the ruling coalition candidate’s libertarian rival Javier Milei.
Speaking during a social media broadcast on Tuesday, veteran leftist Lula said that Argentina needs to elect a president who "likes democracy" – a dig at Milei, an outspoken economist who has been labelled dangerous by his opponents for his radical proposals.
Lula described Argentina, Brazil's main partner in the region and the Mercosur bloc, as "very important" for the country and assured that both countries need each other.
"How much we can grow together ... For that we need a president who likes democracy, who respects institutions, who likes Mercosur and South America," the Brazilian leader said during his weekly broadcast.
Lula, 78, avoided declaring explicit support for either of Argentina’s two candidates in the run-off, even though several members of his government have made no secret of their preference for Massa, Argentina’s current economy minister.
"I want to ask Argentines to think about Argentina when they vote. But think a little about the kind of South America you want to create, the kind of Mercosur you want. Together we will be strong. Separated, we are weak," said the Brazilian president.
Milei has been harshly critical of Lula, whom he called a "communist" and "corrupt" in a recent interview. He said that if elected he would not meet with the Brazilian president.
During last Sunday's final debate ahead of the run-off, the La Libertad Avanza leader said private firms would lead commercial relations and implied that his dislike of Lula would not affect bilateral trade.
Milei also criticised Mercosur, saying it should be "eliminated" as a "defective customs union."