For many observers the meeting of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Washington with US president Barack Obama was the first important encounter among US and Latin America during the government of the new president at the White House. Undoubtedly, Lula became one of the most representative political leaders of the region and his statements in Washington show clearly what the Latin America of the new century wants from US and wants from itself.
President Lula asked Obama that the relation between US and the southern region of the Western Hemisphere should be more under a frame of equal cooperation, rather than a role of watch. He asked also an approach of Washington to Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, the nations that have been critics to the American policies in the last decade due to their socialists governments.
In a press conference given by Lula in the Brazilian embassy in Washington, he said that the best opportunity to open a space of dialogue between US and the three Latin American nations would be the next Summit of the Americans at the middle of April.
War on drug trafficking
The other issue discussed by Lula with Obama was about the war on drug trafficking. The matter has been of actuality after the czar anti-drugs, Antonio Maria Costa, published his own report that has been criticized by several NGOs. NGOs dedicated to the study of the global problem on drugs say that the report claims for a continuity in repression, rather than treat it as a health problem.
Latin America as a whole is one of the first producer of drugs in the world, especially cocaine and marijuana. Even if countries like Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are counted among the first global producers of cocaine, the entire region is joined by a complicated net of mafias extended from Argentina to Mexico, working carefully and dynamic to introduce the drug to the US territory.
In fighting the Latin American mafias, it became traditional that the conduction of the war on drugs is leaded by the government of Washington, pouring billion of dollars to eradicate grows, disarticulate criminal organizations and stop the routes of drugs entering US and Europe.
But the leadership of US in its war on drugs has been seem suspicious by many in Latin America, even in friendly countries of Washington like Colombia and Brazil. The most radical cases has been Bolivia and Venezuela that suspended the operations of Drug Enforcement Agency of the Unites States (DEA) in their territories in 2008 under accusations of espionage and even conspiracy.
True or not, the most reasonable is what Lula suggested in Washington this week: the war on drugs is not a single concern of the United States, but it is a concern of the Hemisphere in what Colombian president Álvaro Uribe would call a “share responsibility” between producers and consumers of drugs. In that case, the fight against production must be leaded by the same producer nations to “assume the control of the borders”, as president Lula said.
Lula da Silva said also that he will propose in the next meeting of the South American Union (UNASUR), the creation of a regional conference to fight drug trafficking. Although he did not mention it, such conference or council has been mentioned also by president Morales of Bolivia and would replace the role of DEA.
“Nosotros tenemos que dejar de ser dependientes, porque ahora todo el mundo espera que un país rico venga a hacer las cosas que nosotros mismos debemos hacer”, said Lula.
“we need to stop being dependent, because now everybody waits that a rich country comes to do what we ourselves have to do“.
Lula said in his press conference that Obama showed “good will” toward Latin America. He said also that hopes that relations among US and the region will improve under the government of Obama. For he Brazilian president, such relations should be built on mutual trust and not interventions.
Brazil – US
Brazil as one of the strongest economies of Latin America, has also big issues with the northern economical power. Especially, both nations have interests in the interchange of fuel. Both presidents talked also about the cooperation with biofuel.
The other item that was discussed among Lula and Obama was about the global warming. If US is one of the biggest responsible of consume of global resources, Brazil has in its territory the biggest world jungle, Amazons, and then a great responsibility in global protection of ecology, something that is often in conflict with the will of development and industrialization.