Brazil Pres. faces tricky balancing act in Cuba trip

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Thu Sep 25 09:27:09 MDT 2003

[ Fred: you can now post from both addresses. Les]

Imperialist and allied pressure on Lula is on the rise in the wake of
his leading role in the walkout from the World Trade Organization.  I
think that Washington in particular had expected some sharp verbal
criticism from the Brazilian delegation but not the action that marked
a substantial defeat for the WTO and an even more important step
toward greater unity among semicolonial countries.

The pressure that Lula is coming under about his trip to Cuba is, I
suspect, an indication that the honeymoon is over.  Washington is
going to become more open about opposing his independent nationalist
course in representing Brazil to the world -- his warm ties with
Venezuela and Cuba, his lack of enthusiasm for the US war in Colombia,
opposition to the war in Iraq, calls for measures that would lessen US
dominance in the UN, etc.

In the runup to his visit to Cuba, the LA Times ran an incredibly
arrogant editorial demanding that Lula take an openly hostile stance
toward Cuba and Fidel in order to prove himself to the United States
as a proper world figure.  The editorial included a resentful snap at
his "boasts" of having played a leading role in the WTO walkout.

To me, the statements by the spokesman for the Brazilian Center for
International Studies, quoted in the article that accompanies Walter's
remarks, may represent a kinder, gentler Brazilian bourgeois version
of the pressure being exerted on Lula to take more distance from Cuba
in order to re-establish his legitimacy in Washington in the wake of
the WTO events.  My best guess is Lula -- from the standpoint of
Brazilian national interests and sovereignty -- will not make
substantial concessions to this pressure.  The "human rights" groups
that make Cuba a target are also playing a part in the campaign to
bring him back into line or "expose" him.

I think Lula's political. life is about to get more interesting.
Although Washington has become more isolated and its underlying
weaknesses are being exposed in Iraq and in the collapse of the
confrontation with Cuba that Washington sought to provoke before and
after its "victory," Washington is actually becoming more, not less
demanding of governments in Latin America.  In transigence at the WTO
was a part of this, as well as demands that Venezuela (and implicitly
other countries) take sides in the war with Colombia.  Tensions
between the US and Venezuela are rising rapidly, as the US involvement
in seeking to "remove" (as the wise ones say when they talk about
killing Arafat) Chavez intensifies and becomes more widely known.

Lula's ability to pull off his independent international role will
depend largely, in my opinion, on what course he follows in the class
struggle that is intensifying in Brazil.  As Nestor has often pointed
out of this list, the workers and peasants have been the only reliable
mass base of support for even capitalist regimes that attempt to
assert the independence, sovereignty, and economic position of Latin
American countries in the world.  The Brazilian government's decision
on where to stand in the fights taking place over land today is going
to determine, in my opinion, how successful they will be in
confronting Washington's hostility, which is going to grow and come
more and more into the open -- unless Lula folds in the world arena,
which he shows no sign whatever of doing.  Fred Feldman

Walter Lippmann wrote:
(Many people on the left and ultraleft have been
militantly critical of Lula over a range of issues.
His visit to Cuba will be of considerable interest
as it represents an act of solidarity with Cuba at
a time when Washington continues to try its best
to isolate the island, politically and economically.

(In recent months we've seen Washington more
and more isolated on Cuba here in the Western
Hemisphere. The efforts by Brazil, Argentina
and Venezuela among others to pull together a
broad Latin American alliance, including Cuba,
is a big step in the right direction. Bush's poor
reception at the UN this week should serve to
further accellerate these processes.

(For those who haven't read Carlos Iglesias's
essay on the long and close economic links
between Cuba and Brazil, you may wish to do
that now. It helps you to understand why Lula
has already announced he won't be meeting
with oppositionists on this, his first official trip
to Cuba since being elected Brazil's president.)

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