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LATIN AMERICA | 26-06-2024 13:01

Brazil's Lula waiting for apology from Milei for talking 'nonsense'

Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva says he will not speak with Javier Milei until Argentina's President apologises to him for the "nonsense" said previously.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Wednesday he would not speak to his Argentine counterpart Javier Milei until he apologised for the “nonsense” he had spoken about Brazil.

The outspoken Milei has lashed out at numerous leftist leaders since taking office in December, insulting the Spanish prime minister and the presidents of Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.

Lula did not say which comments he was referring to, but Milei branded him “corrupt” and a “Communist” during his fiery election campaign.

“I have not spoken with the president of Argentina because I think he must apologise to Brazil and to me. He has spoken a lot of nonsense, I just want him to apologise,” Lula said in an interview with local media outlet UOL.

Brazil’s veteran leftist pointed out that Milei will not be allowed to “sow discord” between the two neighbouring countries, members of the Mercosur bloc and important trading partners.

Milei has forged closer ties with far-right former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whom he invited to his inauguration. Although there were attempts at rapprochement with Lula’s government, the Brazilian leader did not attend the ceremony in Buenos Aires.

Distances have remained between the two heads of state, even at the G7 summit in Italy this month. Although local press speculated about a possible meeting between Milei and Lula in Bari, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said there was “no request” for a bilateral meeting and the two avoided each other.

The La Libertad Avanza leader has come under the spotlight for his repeated attacks on Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who he said had a “corrupt wife,” prompting Madrid to withdraw its ambassador to Buenos Aires.

Argentina’s President had been previously criticised by Spanish government officials.

In March, Lula said that the extreme right was a threat to global democracy, citing Milei as an example. “Who today is against the system, who criticises everything? Milei in Argentina,” he said.

Despite the tensions between the two rulers, both countries are talking about the alleged presence in Argentina of dozens of fugitives from the attack on the three powers in 2023 in Brasília by Bolsonaro supporters. Lula pointed out that some of these fugitives have already been “condemned” in Brazil, so his government is asking that if they do not return, that “they be arrested” in Argentina. “We are dealing with it as diplomatically as possible,” he said.

Brazilian police have arrested hundreds of suspected vandals, financiers and inciters of the assaults in January 2023, a week after Lula’s inauguration. Some have been convicted of crimes such as an attempted coup d’état, with sentences of up to 17 years in prison.

Milei’s chief spokesperson responded to Lula’s critique by stating that Argentina’s President had not done anything that deserved apologising for. 

Manuel Adorni said that “they greeted each other cordially” at the G7 summit “as two presidents of the Nation should do.”

“There is not much more to say,” he said. “Whatever President Lula wants...is within his wishes, we respect him, the President has not committed anything he has to repent for, at least for now.”

 

– TIMES/AFP

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