‘Lula’ and Fernández raise the pulse for integration and a common currency

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Everything is ready for the long-awaited summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which begins on Tuesday, January 24, in Buenos Aires. Miguel Díaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, and the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ Da Silva, who met on January 23 at the Casa Rosada with his counterpart Alberto Fernández, are already in the Argentine capital. ‘Lula’ promotes not only the return of his country to the organization but a greater strengthening among the member nations, which includes the commitment to a common currency.

Brazil and Argentina aim for greater economic integration, within the framework of the CELAC summit.

The president of the host country, Alberto Fernández, received his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ Da Silva at the Casa Rosada this Monday, January 23, for a meeting in which they seek to relaunch bilateral relations, after four years of right-wing Jair Bolsonaro in the Palacio do Planalto, who withdrew his country from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

“We are going to deepen the strategic relationship that unites our countries. Latin America is getting stronger,” Fernández said through his Twitter account after the arrival of his Brazilian counterpart, who began his first official visit with the delivery of a wreath at the monument to the Liberator General Don José de San Martín.

Both presidents signed several commercial cooperation agreements, prior to the regional meeting, but among what drew the most attention is the joint declaration on ‘lawfare’, after both questioned “persecutions for political reasons.” All in the midst of the struggle between the Executive and the judiciary after the conviction for corruption against the current vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Heads of State and Government from around 15 countries will participate in the VII Summit of the Community. Among them, the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, his Colombian counterpart, Gustavo Petro, the head of state of Chile, Gabriel Boric, of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso and of Bolivia, Luis Arce; as well as delegations from the United States and China.

Brazil and Argentina aim for a common currency that will spread in the region

One of the big issues that the leaders seek to advance during the summit in Buenos Aires is the development of a common currency, with the suggested name ‘South’.

“We intend to overcome the barriers to our exchanges, simplify and modernize the rules, and encourage the use of local currencies,” Da Silva and Fernández highlighted in a joint statement.

Brazil's President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva and Argentina's President Alberto Fernández hold the documents of bilateral agreements at a signing ceremony, at the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 2023.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva and Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández hold the documents of bilateral agreements at a signing ceremony, at the Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 2023. © Reuters/Agustin Marcarian

Argentina is Brazil’s largest trade partner in the region and both presidents stress that the unification of a currency between their two countries would be the basis for its eventual extension to more Latin American nations.

“We also decided to advance discussions on a common South American currency that can be used for both financial and commercial flows, reducing the costs of operations and our external vulnerability,” both presidents said in a written statement.

Although this initiative was already discussed in 2019, its impulse is new after the rejection of the Central Bank of Brazil at that time.

‘Lula’, magnet for a new Latin American integration

‘Lula’ returns to the block of the Latin American left with an impulse to compensate for the distance from his predecessor, while Fernández defends the participation of the questioned leaders of Venezuela and Cuba due to the human rights situation in their territories.

However, the Argentine press reported that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro decided at the last minute not to participate in the meeting, citing security reasons. In his place he will send his chancellor.

Integration among Latin American nations is a priority, but so is balance with the United States and China. A huge challenge facing the two powers, who dispute world influence.

The delegation of the Government of Joe Biden, headed by Senator Chris Dodd, highlights the need to “look more sensitively at what is happening in South America.”

For its part, China, a partner since the beginning of the organization founded by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, indicates that there is greater proximity to the Asian giant.

The experts emphasize that with ‘Lula’ and the Argentine government at the head of the summit, both seek to position themselves as important interlocutors in the face of Washington’s proposals and in line with the rapprochement of several Latin American countries with Beijing.

With Reuters, AP, EFE and local media

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Written by Editor TLN

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