‘Hasty Young Man’: Brazil’s Socialist President Lula Trashes Chile’s President for Ukraine Support

hasty young man brazils socialist president lula trashes chiles president for ukraine support
Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

Brazilian radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva dismissed his Chilean far-left counterpart Gabriel Boric as a “hasty young man” on Wednesday for demanding that Latin American leaders stake out a clear position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The dispute arose during the EU-CELAC summit, a gathering of members of the European Union and members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which took place in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday. The 2023 summit is the first time both blocs have convened since 2015.

Most of Latin America has remained apathetic towards the Ukraine war; allies of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in the region have endorsed the invasion. Lula, who became president for a third term in January, forged close relations with Putin during his first two terms as president from 2003 to 2011 and, similar to his remarks about Boric, disparaged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview last year as a “nice comedian” undeserving of the praise he has received for leading his country through the war. Zelensky subsequently scheduled and then refused to show for a meeting with Lula at the G7 summit in May, leaving Lula “upset.”

During his remarks at the summit, Boric condemned Russia for its “war of imperial aggression” against Ukraine, deviating from how leftists in South America have typically addressed the Ukraine situation.

“We see it in different places of our planet, but today, in this place, the situation in Ukraine has been under debate. I think it is important that from Latin America we say it clearly: what is happening in Ukraine is a war of imperial aggression,” Boric said, “unacceptable, where international law is violated. And I understand that the joint declaration is stuck today because some do not want to say that it is a war against Ukraine.”

The EU-CELAC summit’s participating members struggled to draft a joint statement because the three communist regimes in CELAC – Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua – blocked an early version condemning Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Cuba and Venezuela reportedly agreed to condemn the war after a series of negotiations, leaving Nicaragua as the sole outlier. 

The summit’s participants ultimately published a joint declaration that failed to condemn Russia, instead expressing alleged “deep concern on the ongoing war against Ukraine.” Observers interpreted the use of the term “against” as a minor victory for Boric, as it implied that Ukraine was not the aggressor in the situation.

“Today it is Ukraine, but tomorrow it could be any of us,” Boric said during his demand for clarity against Russia. “In this, let’s not hesitate because of complacency. We may have at another moment with some other leader — it doesn’t matter whether the president of a country is liked or disliked, the important thing is respect for international law, and here international law has been violated, clearly, not by the two parties, but by an invading party, which is Russia.”

“I think it is important that we state this clearly in order to be able to move forward with agreements,” Boric insisted.

Lula da Silva refuted Boric’s statements during a press conference held in Brussels on Wednesday, describing the 37-year-old Chilean far-left president as a “hasty young man” for pressing the summit to speak on the Ukraine war with clarity.

“I don’t have to agree with Boric, it’s his vision. I think the meeting was extraordinary,” Lula said. “Possibly, the lack of experience in participating in these meetings makes a youth more eager, more hasty, but things happen like that.”

Lula has faced some criticism among Western supporters of Ukraine for his reluctance to condemn Russia, only doing so in April after continued criticism from both the United States and the European Union. The Brazilian radical leftist president had first sought to insert himself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine following his inauguration in January, a proposal he discussed with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping during his official visit to China in April. Lula ultimately desisted from his aspirations by May.

Boric ruled out feeling offended by Lula’s comments in statements issued on Wednesday.

“I have infinite respect and a lot of affection for Lula, but if I am asked, ‘Do you want the war to end?’ – yes,” he said in response. “I want the war to end and I think we have to be very clear in saying that this is an unacceptable war of aggression, regardless of the positions one may have regarding the temporary presidencies of one country or another.”

“The times I have had the opportunity to talk to him [Lula] I have the best impression, I think we are from the same political family and today we may have nuances about this, but Chile’s position is a principled position regarding the defense of international law,” he continued, “and in this I believe and I have the deep conviction that we have to be categorical, clear. We cannot leave any room for doubt and that, I think, is something that in the long run, in the eyes of history, ages well.”

Boric’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not the first time the Chilean president — who has described himself as “to the left” of his nation’s Communist Party — has issued statements that have prompted criticism from leftist governments in Latin America. He has faced especially fierce pushback from the left for condemning communist Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

Last year, Boric condemned leftists who fail to criticize human rights abuses committed by leftist leaders during an event in New York held shortly after his first U.N. speech, citing Venezuela and Nicaragua as examples.

“So it really pisses me off when you are from the left, so you condemn the violation of human rights in, I don’t know, Yemen or El Salvador, but you cannot talk about Venezuela or Nicaragua,” Boric said at the time. “Or Chile! In Chile, we had several human rights violations in the social unrest. You don’t have to have a double standard.”

Boric’s criticism of the socialist Maduro regime and the Sandinista Ortega regime have drawn the ire of dictators Nicolás Maduro and Daniel Ortega. Maduro called him a “coward” last year, while Ortega accused him of being a “U.S. lapdog.”

In June, Boric and Lula clashed over Venezuela during a meeting of South American presidents in Brazil. Boric called Lula out for claiming that socialist-driven human suffering in Venezuela was a concocted right-wing “narrative.”

“I have to say that the human rights crisis in Venezuela – and in this I differ with President Lula – is not a constructed narrative. It is real, in flesh and bone,” Boric said in front of both Lula and Maduro.

In response, vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and alleged drug lord Diosdado Cabello accused Boric of allegedly working alongside the United States to “sabotage” the meeting, giving him a fake “employee of the month” award from Washington as a joke.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Authored by Christian K. Caruzo via Breitbart July 20th 2023