LULA IN ESSEQUIBO

In Guyana, Lula talks about regional peace and tries to consolidate his role as a mediator in the Essequibo dispute

Brazil’s President met his Guyanese counterpart and will also talk to Nicolás Maduro

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo state |
Lula met the Guyanese President Ihfan Ali in Guyana's capital city, Georgetown - Ricardo Stuckert / PR

On Thursday (29), President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said South America is a territory of peace, and he will personally thank the prime minister of Saint Vicent and the Granadines Ralph Gonsalves for his engagement in the talks between Venezuela and Guyana on the Essequibo dispute.

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By saying that Brazil wants to play the peace game in South America, Lula drew a parallel between two conflicts currently happening in the world. “Everybody knows that Brazil is against the war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza, as well as we were against the terrorist attack Hamas carried out. Brazil doesn’t want conflicts with any country. We want prosperity,” said the president.

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He also said he hopes that the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in the next few days be marked by “peace and love”, not “hate”. Today (01), Lula participated in the summit opening ceremony and will probably meet Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

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Lula’s speech was made in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city, after a bilateral meeting with Guyanese President Irfan Ali. That marked one of the main goals of Lula’s administration: to resume Brazil’s regional leadership. To experts heard by Brasil de Fato, a fundamental part of this strategy also lies in Brazil's role as a mediator in the relationship between the Guyanese and Venezuelan governments.

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:: Brazil took on its leadership and will waste energy mediating talks between Venezuela and Guyana, says experts ::

To the professor of International Relations Thiago Galvão (University of Brasília), Brazil has always had a diplomatic approach based on pacifism and dialog. Because the country is an important international player, it tries to bring this to global conflicts.

“Brazil tried to mediate the war in Ukraine, in the Gaza Strip, but the closer the territory is, the easier for the government to achieve its mediation goals. Brazil will take the lead in a vacuum of possibilities involving dialogs, since few other countries as relevant as Brazil can do so in the case involving Venezuela and Guyana. When Lula goes treat these topics personally, he shows that we are trying to mediate these problems in the region,” he said to Brasil de Fato.

According to Patrícia Méndez, an internationalist and professor of history at the Central University of Venezuela, Lula inspires certainty among Venezuelans and Guyanese, therefore making it easier for him to mediate due to his "objective" nature.

“Lula is seen as an objective mediator. Brazil's balanced stance facilitates the talks. Guyana's invitation gives Lula the tools to play this role of mediator at a high level, talking to Nicolás Maduro and Irfaan Ali. It's no small feat for the president to take on this intermediary role," he explains.

Professor Galvão says Brazil has an “institutional memory” that allows the country to carry out factual and peaceful mediation of conflicts, one that is concerned with maintaining peace on the continent.

Regional relations and foreign powers

Lula emphasized that his trip to Guyana was aimed at restarting relations with South American and Caribbean countries, which, according to him, were put on hold after former President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment. 

According to Méndez, the very mediation of the Essequibo issue and the dialogues with the Venezuelan government help to reach this objective. "The historical proximity of the Venezuelan government to Brazil doesn't change the game of this mediation. It helps that Brazil maintains its position of preventing the entry of foreign powers and the destabilization of the region," she said.

Guyana's economic growth is one of the reasons for this rapprochement. In 2020, the country recorded GDP of US$5.5 billion. Three years later, the country ended 2023 with a current GDP of US$16.3 billion. IMF’s projection for 2026 is that this figure will reach US$27.9 in one year. These prospects have grown due to the discovery of oil in the country in recent years. Because of this, one of Brazil's concerns is the interest of foreign powers in Guyana's oil.

"Guyana's growth brings it closer to Brazil and is important for the Caribbean region. Other powers are looking for a stake and influence in the region. That’s good that Lula's Brazil is taking the lead," said Méndez.

The presidents of Brazil and Guyana said one of their goals with these meetings was economic and infrastructure partnerships. According to Thiago Galvão, this economic concern helps to consolidate Brazil as a regional leader.

"One of the issues that Lula is working on is responsibility towards the countries of the region and, within that, warding off US interference, which wants oil; China, interested in expanding its participation in South American economies; and Russia, a historical ally of Venezuela. France, Holland and the Iberian countries cannot be forgotten, since they also have a history of influence in the Caribbean and the north area of South America," he said.

Edited by: Lucas Estanislau