Brazil’s Lula takes to social media to warn Argentinian voters

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts after meeting with Brazilian citizens, who were repatriated from the Gaza Strip, upon arrival at the Air Force base of Brasilia, Brazil November 13, 2023. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Argentina’s upcoming presidential election is causing quite the stir, with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva weighing in, calling for Argentines to elect a president who values democracy and supports the Mercosur trading bloc. Lula’s statements follow the televised presidential debate between Argentina’s top two contenders ahead of the run-off election this weekend.

According to Lula, Argentinian voters need to consider what kind of South America they want to create before heading to the polls. They’ll be choosing between Economy Minister Sergio Massa and the far-right economist Javier Milei.

Milei has been voicing concerns about Argentina’s relationship with Brazil, even going so far as to call Lula a ‘communist’. He’s also been openly critical of the South American common market, Mercosur, claiming that Argentina should ‘follow its own path’.

Lula has been calling for unity and cooperation between Argentina and Brazil, emphasizing the importance of the two nations working together and resolving any differences through negotiations.

In his livestream on social media, Lula called on Argentine voters to think carefully about their decision. He stressed the need for a president who values democracy, respects institutions, supports Mercosur, and believes in a united South America. Lula pointed out that the world is divided into blocs like the European bloc and the Asian bloc, and that South America needs to create its own bloc to trade with the rest of the world.

Milei, often compared to Brazil’s former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, has made it clear that he would limit trade with Brazil if he were elected, referring to Lula as an ‘angry communist’ and a ‘socialist with a totalitarian vocation’. On the other hand, Massa has shown a much friendlier attitude towards Lula’s government. In fact, he has even met with Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad to discuss Buenos Aires’ relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

What’s at stake in this election goes beyond the choosing of a president as the geopolitical implications of this particular election affect the region,  the Mercosur bloc at the very least.

As Latin America’s third largest economy, Argentina and arguably the region’s future hangs in the balance as the country prepares for the run-off election. The choice between Massa and Milei will determine not only the course of democracy according to Lula, but also Argentina’s direction and its relationships with its neighbours and the world.

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