Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the leftist president of Brazil who took office after a hotly contested election this January, received his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro on Monday, May 29, in Brasilia.
The meeting was the first visit by Maduro, infamous for running Venezuela as an authoritarian socialist state since 2013, to Brazil since 2015.
To allow Maduro to visit Brazil, Lula had to first lift a ban on his entry into the country ordered in 2019 by previous Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist. Boslonaro left office after the 2022 Brazilian presidential election, which was fraught with claims from his supporters that the vote had been rigged in Lula’s favor.
Maduro, who took power in Venezuela after the death of previous strongman socialist Hugo Chavez, has presided over the oil-producing nation’s economic malaise and further descent into authoritarianism.
Lula congratulated Maduro on his comeback, saying, “What’s important about Maduro coming here is that it’s the beginning of Maduro’s return.”
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
Maduro, for his part, welcomed Brazilian investment into Venezuela and called for unity between his country and Brazil, “from now and always.”
During his meeting with Maduro, Lula criticized what he called a U.S.-backed, “constructed narrative of authoritarianism” unfairly imposed upon Venezuela. He also suggested that Venezuela’s poverty was not caused by its socialist policies and heavy state control over industry, but rather sanctions imposed by Washington upon the country of 28 million.
Around 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since Chavez was elected in the late 1990s.