Lula Promises Venezuela ‘Respect’ as Presidential Campaign Begins in Brazil

The leftist presidential candidate called Juan Guaidó an “imposter”.

Mexico City, Mexico, August 23, 2022 ( – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva rejected the recognition of opposition figure Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela, calling him an “imposter”, and said he would instead honor the “self-determination” of the Venezuelan people.

Lula, who currently leads election polls as he seeks a return to the presidency, told a gathering of international media that Brazil had an “extraordinary” relationship with Venezuela during his earlier two terms that ran from 2003 to 2010.

The leftist Workers Party (PT) candidate also called on both Europe and the United States to restore ties with Venezuela, saying he felt encouraged by the recent efforts at rapprochement by the Joe Biden administration. However, he added that he hoped it was not merely motivated by geopolitical concerns over oil supply.

“Because there is only one way for you to establish democratic coexistence [and] it is not by criminalizing people,” said Lula on Monday, referring to efforts by the US to prosecute Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The former president was responding to a question from a reporter from Spain’s El País newspaper that framed the issue as one of democratic legitimacy. Lula rejected the premise, instead saying that he wants the same for Venezuela that he wants for Brazil, for the results of the election to be respected by all political actors.

Lula and the PT are facing the prospect that his major rival, President Jair Bolsonaro, could attempt a “self-coup” and perpetuate himself in power by claiming the result was fraudulent. In Venezuela the opposition has cried foul in every lost election, in the more recent occasions leading to months of instability and violent street protests.

The far right Bolsonaro supported Washington’s efforts to oust Maduro from power, joining several regional leaders in recognizing Guaidó after he declared himself president in January 2019.

That decision led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Brasilia and Caracas. Meanwhile, Brazil’s PT has had a long standing relationship with the United Socialist Party (PSUV) in Venezuela, with many of the party’s more prominent members denouncing Washington’s regime change efforts in the country.

Later in the day during an event to launch a book about Brazil’s foreign policy in Lula’s earlier tenure, the presidential candidate said he would once again give special consideration to the South American giant’s relationship with its neighbors, as well as countries on the African continent.

The first round of elections in Brazil is scheduled to be held on October 2.

Bolsonaro now finds himself increasingly at odds with the rest of Latin America after a string of victories by leftist and progressive candidates in recent elections.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, considered the country’s first lefist president, recently took major steps to restore diplomatic relations with neighboring Venezuela, returning a key state-owned asset and appointing an ambassador, with Caracas likewise naming former Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia as ambassador to Colombia.

Colombian Transport Minister Guillermo Reyes also requested airlines to restore flights to Venezuela as soon as diplomatic ties are fully established and the border is reopened.

In contrast, Venezuelan relations with Argentina have come under some strain after judicial authorities in the South American nation seized a Venezuelan cargo jet at the behest of the US Justice Department.

The case has fueled speculation in the Argentinian press, with outlets alleging that the Iranian nationals had ties to groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. However, the claims have not been backed by any evidence. Instead, the legal process stems from an alleged violation of Washington’s sanctions program when Venezuela purchased the aircraft from Iranian company Mahan Air.

Maduro has demanded the immediate release of the plane and its crew.

Meanwhile, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America condemned the “illegal request” to retain the Venezuelan aircraft in Argentina since June.

“The Alliance strongly rejects the continuation of sanctions against the Venezuelan people and government,” read the statement.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Mérida.