It was night last Saturday (16) when Lula arrived in New York. At the hotel door, supporters were already gathering to welcome the president and his delegation of eight ministers who would face a full agenda of events in the coming days.
“It is a joy for us to be here for the first time, after seven years of resistance, doing an act of joy, an act of welcome, an act of welcome to our president”, said Myriam Marques, a Brazilian who has lived for more than 20 years in the city.
Myriam is part of Defend Democracy in Brazil (DDB), a militant collective that she helped found. She recalled that they participated in many demonstrations against Jair Bolsonaro in recent years. In addition to the DDB, the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Struggle Committee, the Boston PT nucleus and the PSL (Party for Socialism and Liberation, in English) were also present.
The opening of the General Assembly
At the United Nations headquarters, as is tradition, Lula opened the discussion among world leaders. In the speech, the president spoke about the environment, world peace and global governance. All this under the umbrella of inequality, a theme that permeated his entire participation.
After a blackout in Brazil’s international image, Lula summarized the current scenario: “hope, once again, overcame fear. Our mission is to unite Brazil and rebuild a sovereign, fair, sustainable, supportive, generous and joyful country. Brazil is finding itself again with itself, with our region, with the world and with multilateralism. As I never tire of repeating: Brazil is back.”
After the first intervention, Lula was interrupted seven times by applause from the global leaders present. His speech was the only one greeted in this way at the opening of the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations.
The president used the biggest stage in world diplomacy to defend a new order with a leading role in the Global South. Resuming a Brazilian tradition, ignored during the last government, Lula criticized the embargo on Cuba.
“Brazil will continue to denounce measures taken without the support of the UN charter, such as the economic and financial embargo imposed on Cuba, and the attempt to classify this country as a state sponsor of terrorism,” said Lula.
When talking about global governance, Lula was incisive: “When institutions reproduce inequalities, they are part of the problem and not the solution. (…) The unequal and distorted representation in the management of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank is unacceptable”.
Lula mentioned Ukraine in the midst of many other conflicts, such as Palestine, Haiti, Yemin, Libya, Sudan, among others. The Brazilian was loudly applauded, but Volodmir Zelensky remained motionless.
::Lula defends at the UN that Assange should not be punished for transparent and legitimate information::
Outside, protesters took to the streets in central Manhattan. A group carried posters and leaflets in defense of Brics. Linne Speed, member of the LaRouche Organization crane, explained to Brasil de Fato what they were doing there.
“The history of the United States is the world’s first anti-colonialist revolution,” Linne said, “and we have to bring the United States back to that tradition. The USA should be working and collaborating with the BRICS for economic development and to end these insane wars with no winners. Ukraine is a proxy war for a confrontation between the West and Russia, which is a disaster.”
Important agendas on Wednesday
But the president didn’t stop there. Faced with 60 requests for bilateral meetings, Lula focused on members of the European Union, with whom he intends to close an agreement while presiding over Mercosur.
The most important meetings were scheduled for Wednesday. In the early afternoon, Lula met behind closed doors with the president of
United States, Joe Biden, and reached a historic agreement in defense of labor rights in the 21st century. Lula was Biden’s only agenda other than Natanyahu – president of Israel – that day.
In a second moment, open to the press and guests, Biden said: “Over the last few days, world leaders have talked about climate change, sustainable development, food security, economic resilience… but we know that our success with these challenges depends on our workers ”.
The US president explained that “they (the workers) will make our transition to clean energy. They will keep our production chain safe. They will build the infrastructure we need to keep our economies strong. So we need to empower them too. This partnership is about that. And in fact this partnership was this guy’s idea,” he said, pointing to the Brazilian president.
::Lula and Biden launch partnership for decent work and praise the relationship between Brazil and the USA::
Lula then received the president of Ukraine, Volodmir Zelensky. It was one to “break the ice”, as Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba defined it. The long-awaited meeting took place at the Brazilian delegation’s hotel, where Zelensky entered and left without talking to the media.
“It was an important meeting,” said Kuleba, “I could even use the undiplomatic expression: breaking the ice. Not to say that there was ice between the two countries, but (to say) that the conversation was very warm and honest. And now I think both presidents understand each other’s position much better.”
Lula spoke to the press before leaving the hotel and returning to Brazil. To journalists, the president spoke about the meeting with Zelensky.
“I think it was the meeting that should happen and that needed to happen.”, Lula pointed out, “I heard Zelensky’s story. I told Zelensky that we need to work to build peace. I told him about the need to find a group of friendly countries that could construct a proposal that was neither one nor the other, of the two that are at war, and that negotiation at a dialogue table is much cheaper than a war. There is no victim, there is no death and there is no shooting.”
Editing: Patrícia de Matos