by Gabriel Stargarder and Matt Spatalnik
RIO DE JANEIRO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads the polls for October’s presidential election, has quietly sent an envoy, Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-BA), to the US State Department in Washington. Sent to meet the officers. April, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Wagner’s private meetings with US officials, which were not previously reported, are part of an effort by Lula and Washington to overcome their mistrust of each other ahead of the election. Polls show Lula ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Wagner, the former defense minister and former governor of Bahia, did not respond to requests for comment.
The US State Department declined to comment.
Wagner’s unannounced visit to Washington underscores Lula’s – and other Latin American left-wing politicians’ suspicions – of the US government. This is in contrast to Lula’s high-profile tour of Europe in November, when she was welcomed by French, German and Spanish leaders.
Lula is suspicious of the US, saying US investigators cooperated with Brazilian prosecutors who jailed him as part of the Lava Jato operation.
For its part, the US disagrees with Lula’s public support for the leftist governments of Cuba and Venezuela, which Washington considers “undemocratic.”
Sources said US officials were also cautious in approaching Lula’s camp because of fears that a turbulent election is likely to see one candidate favor the other.
The specifics of Wagner’s discussions with American officials were unclear. The sources said he spoke about a possible future outline of Lula’s tenure and how he would progress ties with the US, without giving more details.
One of the sources claimed that while the US government had previously spoken privately with Lula’s middlemen, they focused on the environment, which the PT called a major point of friction between Bolsonaro and US President Joe Biden. was recognized as
Wagner’s visit occurred while he was in the United States for the Brazil Conference at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an annual event promoted by Brazilian students in the Boston area.
During his April 9 speech at the event, Wagner appeared on Lula’s behalf and said that Brazil was in the midst of an “environmental crisis”. He said the environment would not be a “minor point” in a potential new Lula government – “it would be central to his government”.