President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met this Friday (1st) with the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, after the 8th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Neither of them spoke after the meeting, but they posed for a photo.

In a statement, the Venezuelan government said that the heads of state discussed technical cooperation between the countries in different areas and signed two memorandums of understanding: one focused on agricultural production to “deepen exchanges in agriculture, livestock, food and nutritional sovereignty” and another for the supervision of the bilateral cooperation program between Brazil and Venezuela.

Lula and Maduro reinforced the objective of deepening economic and commercial exchanges which, according to the document, “reached US$6 billion in 2013”. There was an expectation that they would also talk about the dispute over Essequibo and the Venezuelan elections.

This was the second meeting between the presidents since the Brazilian took office in January 2023. In May last year, Lula received Maduro in Brasília. At the time, the Brazilian criticized the blockade imposed by the USA against Venezuela and said that it is inexplicable that “a country has 900 sanctions just because another country doesn’t like it”.

Meeting with Guyana

The Venezuelan president also met with the Chief Executive of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, amid the dispute between the countries over the territory of Essequibo. The two shook hands and exchanged gifts. Maduro took the opportunity to state that “for the first time in 100 years, Venezuela is producing 97% of its food.”

The quick meeting marked the second occasion on which Nicolás Maduro and Irfaan Ali met since the Venezuelan held a referendum to claim Venezuela’s sovereignty over the Essequibo territory, which is in dispute with Guyana. Venezuelan voters approved the transformation of the territory of Essequibo into a state of Venezuela.

The presidents met in December to discuss the dispute over the territory. It was the first meeting between the leaders since tensions began over the claim to the border enclave. The meeting lasted around two hours and was mediated by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

With 160,000 km² and around 120,000 inhabitants, the territory of Essequibo is located on the border between Venezuela and Guyana and has been the subject of dispute since the 19th century. However, friction between Caracas and Georgetown over control of the region has intensified. after the discovery of large offshore oil wells off the Essequiba coast.

Lula’s speech

During the event, Lula called for a motion from Celac for the “immediate end of the genocide in Gaza”. According to the Brazilian president, “the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza requires the ability to say enough is enough to the collective punishment that the Israeli government imposes on the Palestinian people. People are dying in line for food. The indifference of the international community is shocking” .

During the day, Lula had meetings with the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and the president of Bolivia, Luis Arce. The Brazilian returns to Brasília on Friday night after three days of travel in the Caribbean. The president participated in the closing of the 46th Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Caricom summit.

In both events, Lula condemned Israel’s attacks on the Gaza strip.

Editing: Thalita Pires


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