Former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa interviewed former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday, the two progressive leaders debating the current state of Latin American democracy.
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Correa started the interview remembering the progress made by Lula's government in reducing poverty with economic growth, but also in strengthening state institutions. He then lamented the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, who was democratically elected in 2011. In that context, he asked Lula: what is happening in Brazil?
Lula said everything started to change with the 2013 protests. Brazil "was in a privileged position, it was part of BRICS (the association of emerging economies) and had become an international protagonist, and I think the United States is not used to seeing independence on the part of Latin America.
"In Brazil, there is a pact between the media, the justice system, the office of the attorney general and the police. First, they criminalize people through the media and then, when the person is condemned, they carry out the judicial process.
"In my case, the media lied and that lie was made into a police investigation that was sent to the attorney general's office and became a judicial process."
In a scathing criticism of the elites who are opposed to his presidency, Lula said: "The Latin American elite doesn't want democracy; for them, it is no more than the poor yelling they are hungry."
Correa also invited Lula to discuss international relations and Latin American integration, asking: "What did we do wrong to make it possible that a country like Brazil is destabilized?"
Lula replied that the Brazilian elite never forgave him for favoring South America over the United States: "I am convinced there is a link between the interests of the Brazilian elite and foreign elites, especially that of the United States," he told Correa.
Lula also recognized missed opportunities: "We were carried away by euphoria, by the things that we were able to do, and that is why we weren't so careful with the country's organization." He lamented that his administration was unable to consolidate the southern bloc as a mechanism of regional integration that could have stopped the illegitimate impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.
"Brazil's problem started with Obama, and he was a supposedly a Democrat… In their relationship with Brazil, Bush and Condoleezza Rice were much more democratic than Obama and Hillary Clinton."