Lula’s landing in Lisbon

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President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva

Brazil’s returning President, Luiz Ignacio da Silva, visited Portugal’s President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in what marked the Brazilian President’s first state visit to Europe, following earlier trips to the United States and China since re-election in October 2022.

Banking on the Atlantic cooperation, historic and linguistic ties, Portugal’s hosting of the Brazilian President known as ‘Lula’ coincided with the Portuguese national holiday, April 25th, celebrating the country’s “Carnation Revolution”, a peaceful military coup in 1974 that overthrew an authoritarian regime.

Portugal had been pitching the role of facilitator for decades, with hopes of being Brazil’s transatlantic partner or choice, with both the EU and its former colonies in Africa. Portugal was the first former coloniser economy to be outgrown by its colonies, namely with the rise of Brazil and Angola.

Home to some 250,000 Brazilians, Portugal received the Brazilian President with all the pomp and ceremony to be expected of the EU nation’s most natural ally in Latin America. According to the 2021 estimate by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), some 2.3 million Portuguese live in Brazil. For context, in 2023 Portugal’s capital of Lisbon registered just over 3 million inhabitants.

Portugal is also one of Brazil’s largest trade partners in the EU, and Portugal imported a trade volume of USD4.81 billion from Brazil in 2022, according to the United Nation’s COMTRADE database, the vast majority of imports being of mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products.

The crowds cheered on Lula, Brazil’s President for the third non-consecutive term, beating Jair Bolsonaro in a widely contested and divisive election for the Latin American giant. Lula did not attract only fans, being booed by some members of parliament during an official ceremony, and in the streets, including by Ukrainians in Lisbon following previous comments made regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.

In the first press conference with President Sousa, Lula explained My country took the decision long ago to condemn Russia for the occupation of the space and violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in the first days, and we have voted in the U.N. in this regard”.

During a meeting with Portugal’s left-wing Prime Minister, Brazil’s left-wing president announced signing 13 bilateral agreements, expected on trade and migration, and including cooperation between both countries’ space agencies. Lula spoke of the importance of maintaining humanitarian and commercial relations with Portugal.

President Lula travelled onto Spain on Tuesday.

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