Months before winning the Brazilian elections last October, in an extensive interview with the liberal magazine The Economist, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva postulated that he considered the leaders of Venezuela or Nicaragua dictators, a definition that he extended to any leader who perpetuated himself in power. "Democracy is alternation, if it is not respected what remains is dictatorship," he said.
Shortly after, last January, the chancellor of the new PT government, Mauro Vieira, in his first international report after being appointed, stressed to Clarín and to this reporter the defense of that criterion that would constitute the institutional guide of the new government.
But a few hours ago, Lula, host of a summit of South American presidents, received in Brasilia with joy the Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, bolted to power the last two decades with obvious frauds and defended as "democratic" that totalitarian and repressive model.
Even more serious, he considered as pure "narratives" the accusations of dictatorship against a regime that keeps political prisoners whom it tortures in ESMA-style prisons such as the Helicoide, openly detains political opponents, including legislators in defiance of their privileges and censors any alternative independent press. There is no talk of human rights.
It is valid that Brazil, whose regional importance requires a wide range of criteria, resume relations with Venezuela among other countries that suffer from dictatorships. The criterion of isolation, as has been clear for some time with the Cuban case, does not serve to modify these systems, rather it consolidates them.
Agreements with Joe Biden
The opening to Venezuela, moreover, was one of the agenda items that Lula da Silva discussed with his colleague Joe Biden in Washington during a visit shortly after taking office. It is a notion also shared, for example, by Paraguay's new center-right president, Santiago Peña, who announced the resumption of relations with Caracas.
But closeness should not be confused with complicity. In the US case, that demand is based on a utilitarian issue for the interest of being part of the oil and mining opening that Maduro launched in Venezuela since 2019 headed by the now dismissed and possibly detained, former minister Tarek El-Aissami.
This shift interests Washington because of the energy consequences of the war in Ukraine but worries at the same time because it mobilizes European, Chinese and Russian competitors. So isolation became a difficulty.
The orthodox transformation of the Chavista model is directed by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez advised by a former Minister of Economy of the Ecuadorian correismo and has included the dollarization of the country, but it did not solve the poverty that encloses the majority of Venezuelans, rather the opposite.
Chavista leader with Lula da Silva on Monday, in Brasilia REUTERS
Today the disciple of Hugo Chávez is treated as rightist or liberal by the sectors that perceive themselves as leftist and believed that this experiment was revolutionary. Unlike before, supermarkets are with their shelves full, but it takes dollars or their equivalent to access them.
That is why there are seven million Venezuelans rolling through the Americas in one of the largest migrations in the history of the region and the world. It is worth noting at the bottom of the page that for the same reasons of hidden dollarization and inflation, the flight of Cubans from the island is record.
The meeting with Joe Biden in Washington at the beginning of Lula da Silva's administration EFE
That scenario is an additional problem for Lula's laudatory discourse of Venezuelan democracy, because he directs it at a man who has transformed his tyranny previously adorned with libertarian narratives into a classic civic-military dictatorship that is taken advantage of by a small group of millionaires embracing the regime.
The Brazilian president shields himself in pragmatism for these decisions, supposing that it opens a path for an eventual regime change, but why modify it if there would already be "democracy" in Venezuela.
This irritated and provocative Lula is not the same practical spirit that in his past governments invited to his residence the then president of the United States, George W. Bush to differentiate himself from thenoisy repudiation that was made to the American leader in Mar del Plata, Hugo Chávez, Néstor Kirchner and Diego Maradona.
Epochs of the FTAA, the controversial US plan to open up free trade that the Brazilian establishment ended up closing due to the enormous and absurd imbalance to the north that this proposal had.
The Brazilian, who already seriously skiddedwhile trying to mediate in the war in Ukraine by voluntarily or involuntarily leaning towards the side of Russia, apparently runs these risks to conform to an internal sector that seeks to remain calm.
The left wing of the PT, which is only a fraction of the cabinet but a majority in the Planalto, seat of the Executive, rails against the hard and realistic adjustment model being carried out by Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, twinned with the head of Planning, former right-wing senator Simone Tebet, whose civil service includes important former bureaucrats from the economy portfolio of Paulo Guedes. the former head of Jair Bolsonaro's area.
The president of the party, Gleisi Hoffmann, factotum of that rebel sector, which has been almost silent since the assumption of Lula, reappeared in these hours to repeat the president's praise of Maduro and his prison regime.
The obvious problem of these constructions by a leadership that calls itself socialist, is that they end up building a paradox.
Contrary to what they did during the nightmare of the dictatorships that devastated South America, they now abandon on the right that they repudiate the values and moral flags of the denunciation of the atrocious abuses in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba or the bloody horror that the Russian autocrat has produced in Ukraine.