BRA | May 30, 2023

Brazilian president lifts ban on Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fellow leftist President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with Maduro ahead of a summit of Latin American leaders in Brasilia

FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures as he arrives to attend a business meeting, at Casa de America, in Madrid, Spain April 25, 2023. REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

Venezuela’s President, Nicolás Maduro has visited Brazil for the first time since he was banned by former far-right President, Jair Bolsonaro in 2019.

In a move clearly indicating that the ban has been lifted, Maduro was received by the new Brazilian President, fellow leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, ahead of a summit of Latin American leaders in Brasilia. However, a number of countries are still questioning the legitimacy of Maduro, who is described by opponents as a dictator.

In his meeting, President Maduro talked of a “new era” in bilateral relations with Brazil. For his part, President Lula said the region should tackle poverty. 

Greeting his guest in the Brazilian capital yesterday, Lula said his own return had come five months earlier, referring to the time when he again assumed power after beating Mr Bolsonaro in tight presidential elections.

Venezuela open for Brazilian investors 

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he speaks during a news conference following the ruling Socialist Party’s victory in legislative elections that were boycotted by the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela December 8, 2020. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo

Maduro said Venezuela was open for Brazilian investors, stressing that the two countries “must be united, from now on and always”. Lula used the visit to criticise US sanctions on Venezuela saying a “constructed narrative of authoritarianism” was in place about Venezuela and that sanctions were unjustified.

President Maduro last visited Brazil in 2015. Bolsonaro was ideologically opposed to the leftist Venezuelan leader and unlikely to extend an invitation. However, in the past, Lula enjoyed warm ties with both Maduro and his political mentor, the late Hugo Chávez.

In a sign that the relationship looks set to remain solid, Lula spoke of what he called “extremely exaggerated” US sanctions on Venezuela and said it was inexplicable that the US would “impose 900 sanctions because they don’t get on”. He urged his South American ally to build a new “narrative” about authoritarianism, saying an unfair and “constructed” one had been established around the state of democracy in Venezuela.

Repeated call for US sanctions to be lifted 

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez greets Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, January 2, 2023. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

Lula’s comments have been seized upon by his critics who say he turns a blind eye to the Maduro administration’s alleged human rights violations and lack of free and fair elections. For Maduro, the visit was an opportunity to repeat his call for the US sanctions to be lifted, saying he would call upon the other nations in South America to oppose them as a regional bloc.

Several South American countries are now led by left-wing leaders and might lend their support to such a position, including Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia as well as Brazil. However, it is unclear if such a demand would make any real difference to the Biden administration’s policies towards Venezuela.

Since Maduro was elected in 2013, he has grown increasingly authoritarian. His crackdown on opposition activists ultimately led to the US imposing sanctions on his government and recognising opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president in 2019 after a contested election.

Venezuela has been caught in a downward spiral for years with growing political discontent further fuelled by skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of food and medicine.


What To Read Next