Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visits Portugal
President Lula last visited Portugal as president-elect last November EPA/TIAGO PETINGA

Brazil’s President Lula to address parliament during April 25 commemorations

… centre-right and right wing parties react in uproar

Brazil’s new left-wing president Lula da Silva has been invited by foreign affairs minister João Gomes Cravinho to speak during parliament’s solemn session commemorating the April 25 revolution.

Mr Gomes Cravinho made the announcement while in Brasilia, preparing for the Luso-Brazilian summit, which will be taking place in Portugal between April 22-25 – instantly opening the floodgates on ‘outrage’ from the centre-right and right.

President of the country’s third political force, CHEGA – always referred to as Portugal’s ‘extreme right wing’ – called the invitation “an enormous disrespect”, while spokesmen for the more centre-right Iniciativa Liberal, and centre-right PSD, also condemned it (the former actually saying it is an “unacceptable trampling” on parliamentary procedure).

Consensus is that it is perfectly acceptable for the Brazilian president to address the House, but not to speak during ‘a solemn session’ commemorating the country’s exit from years of dictatorship – and certainly not in the way it has been announced. It is a decision that should come from the Council of Ministers, not one minister when he was overseas, say critics.

As João Gomes Cravinho said in his announcement, it will be the first time a head of State has been invited to speak at a solemn session in the Portuguese parliament. 

In a bid to calm the backlash, parliamentary speaker Augusto Santos Silva has pledged to work to assure that all parties come round to the idea (left wing parties are more than comfortable with the decision). But it comes at a moment where the Brazilian president appears to be positioning himself as a ‘peace broker’ in the Ukraine conflict… alongside China and possibly even India.

Not that the centre-right or right wing in Portugal have alluded to this: their protests have been limited to parliamentary procedure and how they perceive it has been ‘flouted’. But it is no secret that President Lula raised a number of eyebrows recently when he met with German chancellor Olaf Scholz and appears to have suggested that Russia is not to be ‘blamed’ for the Ukraine conflict.

Politico online headlined the story “Brazil’s Lula snubs Olaf Scholz with Ukraine war remarks”.

“I think the reason for the war between Russia and Ukraine also needs to be clearer. Is it because of NATO? Is it because of territorial claims? Is it because of entry into Europe? The world has little information about that,” Lula told journalists afterwards, repeating his now classic statement: “If one doesn’t want to, two can’t fight”.

President Lula has stopped short however of voting against (or abstaining) from the recent UN call on Moscow to end the war.

With the parliamentary speaker now focused on bringing MPs round to this plan for August 25, President Marcelo has said the equivalent of “I don’t know and I don’t need to know. This is a matter for parliament”.

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