Lula Takes on Neoliberal Paradigm in the Lion’s Den

Addressing the G7 working group entitled “Working Together to Confront Multiple Crises,” on May 20, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a guest, confronted the attendees with some uncomfortable truths about the current global systemic crisis and the changes required to address it.

Seated between President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he slammed the International Monetary Fund for ignoring the consequences for developing nations of the Fund’s brutal austerity policies, and demanded that the global financial system “be at the service of production, labor and employment. We will only have true sustainable development by directing our efforts and resources to the real economy.”

That should have happened after the 2009 crisis, but never materialized, he observed. He pointedly warned that the poverty, unemployment, hunger, environmental degradation and the pandemics of the current era can only be addressed by a state that encourages “public policies directed toward guaranteeing fundamental rights and the collective well-being” of the population.

A few hours after his speech, Lula met privately with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, to whom he reportedly repeated some of his same remarks about her fund’s policy, which “is destroying Argentina” and other developing nations. The Argentine state news agency Telam reported May 20 that it had received a communiqué from Planalto, the Office of the Brazilian Presidency, explaining that Lula “also addressed Argentina’s economic situation with the IMF’s Managing Director, as it is a necessary element in South America’s regional balance.”

After attending the G7 summit, Lula proposed at a press conference on May 22 that the Ukraine crisis be taken up by the UN, preferably in the General Assembly. The leaders of both Ukraine and Russia should give presentations, he said, after which deliberations could begin on seeking a resolution. On previous occasions, Lula, who maintains good relations with both sides, has offered to serve as a mediator in negotiations.

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