In South America, Brazil is a country that has been able to define its national interest based on its power based fundamentally on its territorial extension of around 8.5 million square kilometers, a population of almost 220 million inhabitants, immense natural wealth, the Amazon basin, a large civil and military industrial base and a GDP of 1.609 trillion dollars, which places it as the twelfth largest economy on the planet. In addition, since 1945, Brazil began to train professional diplomats at the Institute named after the Baron of Rio Branco, in memory of the historian and ambassador, José Maria da Silva, who in the early twentieth century skillfully negotiated Brazil's current borders an created a strategic sense to foreign policy.
That is why the re-launching of Brazil on the international scene, by the hand of President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, after four years of absence during the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro, means that the country is back and ready to play an increasingly important role in the global agenda. Since January 2023, when he began his second presidential term, President Lula has visited Argentina, the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates and recently, Portugal, and Spain. In Lisbon, he will commemorate the 49th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution and in Madrid, he will hold a political, trade, investment, culture and science agenda that has become the hallmark of Lula's presidential visits. In his recent tour to China and the United Arab Emirates, accompanied by a delegation of 300 people, he signed agreements for US$ 12.799 billion, of which more than US$ 10 billion were with the Chinese giant, a country that became Brazil's main trading partner in 2009. Trade between the two countries reached US$ 150.5 billion last year, which is more than double the amount of bilateral trade with the United States. Relations with China go further and are also found in the investment bank BRICS, formed by a grouping of countries in which Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa participate. The bank was created in 2014 with an initial capital of 100 billion dollars, is based in Shanghai, and is currently chaired by the former president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who declared at its inauguration that "this is not against the World Bank or the IMF but in favor of ourselves".
In the current complex international political context, the Brazilian president clearly established Brazil's position in relation to the war between Russia and Ukraine, by reaffirming that his country will be neutral and will not send weapons to the Kyiv government. He had previously suggested that peace negotiations should consider Crimea remaining in Russian territory, which originated a quick response from the Ukrainian government immediately ruling out such a possibility. Lula went further by blaming the United States and the European Union for the continuation of the conflict, stating: "It is necessary for the United States to stop encouraging war and start talking about peace. It is necessary for the European Union to start talking about peace so that we can convince the presidents of Russia and Ukraine that peace is in everyone's interest". Also, on leaving the Arab Emirates, he told journalists that he was proposing the creation of "a G-20 for peace" with the participation of countries from Latin America and the developing world in the same way as was done in 2088 "to save the economy". Upon his return to Brasilia, the Brazilian head of state received the Russian foreign minister, Serguei Lavrov, with whom he met at the Alvorada Palace, the president's official residence. It was reported that the two men spoke of "peace and not war". Undoubtedly, the visit caused irritation and annoyance both in the White House and in Brussels, which led the spokesman of the State Department in Washington, in a harsh statement, to say that "Brazil is parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda, without paying any attention to the facts". Subsequently, President Lula has had to clarify that he condemns Russia's aggression against Ukraine, but the message to world public opinion had already been delivered and that probably explains the strong reaction of the U.S. government spokesman.
While Brazil has several strengths that help him to be a major player in world politics, it also has strong weaknesses that limit its possibilities. Its per capita income is less than US$10,000 and the country is marked by poverty, neglect and growing inequality based on race, skin color, or gender in broad social sectors. Poverty, according to official figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reached 29.4% of the population in 2022, equivalent to 62.5 million inhabitants, and the national survey on Food Insecurity carried out in the context of Covid-19 by the Brazilian Network of Research on Food and Nutritional Sovereignty and Security, in 2022, shows that 33.1 million people have nothing to eat. Added to this is the political polarization of a country divided into almost equal halves after the four years of the government of former President Bolsonaro, where poverty, insecurity and hunger spread. This means that President Lula will also have to focus on domestic policy, strengthening the economy and giving assurances to the population that their living conditions will improve rapidly.
In short, Brazil and its president are not improvising, and they know the reality they face. They have a strategic plan in domestic and foreign policy. The latter gives it the possibility of consolidating itself as the leading voice in Latin America, with Mexico mired in the endless violence that has characterized the country in the last decades and Argentina with its chronic ungovernability and endemic economic crisis, for which reason they have long ceased to be Brazil's rivals. Brazil has not given up the idea of reforming the international system and becoming a member of the United Nations Security Council and is willing to confront the United States on issues of security and world peace. The official re-launching of UNASUR, which should bring together the countries of the region, is another of Lula's goals, convinced of the need for integration and the need to raise a single voice from South America. That is why he has sought in China a partner that will ensure him strong political and economic support, enthusiastically assuming the geopolitical project of ending the unipolar world and maintaining independence, to which France and President Macron have also referred, of "not being a vassal of any power".
Lula is playing hard and hopes to unite the countries that feel instrumentalized or aligned by Washington in this dispute for world hegemony.