Brazil to resume diplomatic relations with Venezuela under Lula

Incoming left-wing president Lula has signalled he will seek to repair relations with the Maduro government.

Nicolas Maduro speaking before a crowd
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, seen here in December 2020, has enjoyed improved relations with the country's neighbours as leftist politicians are being voted into power across South America [File: Ariana Cubillos/AP Photo]

Brazil is set to restart diplomatic relations with neighbouring Venezuela once President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assumes office on January 1.

On Wednesday, Mauro Vieira – whom Lula named last week as his pick for foreign minister – announced that a diplomatic mission will travel to Caracas next month to organise an official Brazilian residence in the city before an ambassador is appointed by Brazil’s legislature.

Diplomatic relations between Brazil and Venezuela’s left-wing government broke down in 2020, during the tenure of Brazil’s current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, a left-leaning politician who defeated Bolsonaro in Brazil’s October election, has signalled he will seek a thaw in tensions with his country’s northern neighbour.

During his time in office, Bolsonaro signed a decree banning Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and senior members of his administration from entering Brazil. He also joined more than 50 countries in recognising Juan Guaido, a member of Venezuela’s opposition, as the country’s acting president after Maduro’s 2018 re-election.

Countries including the United States called Maduro’s 2018 reelection results “fraudulent”. But Guaido’s self-declared presidency came to little and talks between Maduro’s government and the opposition resumed in November.

Vieira on Wednesday reiterated that Brazil will recognise Maduro’s government. He also stated his intention to place Brazil’s embassy “next to the government that exists, the government that was elected” – meaning Maduro’s.

Meanwhile, Guaido’s ambassador to Brazil, Maria Teresa Belandria, is reportedly preparing to leave the country. She was recognised as Venezuela’s official representative in Brazil under Bolsonaro.

As leftist figures are being voted into power across South America, including Lula in Brazil and Gustavo Petro in Colombia, many have moved to ease relations with Venezuela that were strained under previous conservative governments.

Colombia announced it would restore full diplomatic relations with Venezuela in August, as the countries seek greater collaboration in areas such as trade and security in regions around the border.

Petro met with Maduro in early November – the first meeting between their respective heads of state in years. They have also reopened their shared border to trade in an effort to facilitate economic relations.

Brazil’s incoming government is reportedly trying to clear Maduro for entry so he can attend Lula’s inauguration.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters