Few events have shown how far the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) government of president Lula has moved to embrace neo-liberalism than the recent failed talks to revive the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina.
Traditionally, supporters of the PT could expect that Lula would use the presence of George Bush at the talks to strongly defend Latin American sovereignty and criticise US imperialism.
Lula appeared alongside Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Argentinian president Nestor Kirchner on one of the banners which appeared at the militant demonstrations of the People’s Summit organised to oppose imperialism and the FTAA.
Yet in the midst of this massive anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist demonstration and the tough denunciation of US imperialism by Chavez, Lula acted as George Bush’s closest friend and ally.
He praised efforts by the United Nations to kickstart the flagging negotiations to advance the FTAA and welcomed Bush at a barbecue at his official residence in Brasilia while workers demonstrated outside.
Lula’s actions come as no surprise. The PT government has openly embraced neo-liberalism, sacrificing social programmes to pay foreign debts. Inequality and misery continue at shocking levels in Brazil.
While there has been much talk outside Brazil about a supposed left wing alliance between Lula and Chavez, the PT government has undermined forces resisting neo-liberalism in Latin America.
In June it supported the Bolivian political elite in its fight against popular movements calling for the nationalisation of gas. In alliance with Uruguay and Argentina, it has pushed for cuts to tariffs in an effort to accelerate primary exports and further enhance the power of agribusiness.
Brazil also has over 1,000 troops in Haiti as part of the supposed “peacekeeping” force which is enforcing a US backed coup against the popular president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
It is clear from recent events in Latin America that the only way to oppose US imperialism and build a movement against neo-liberalism is to be active in the streets and workplaces. This is the task for the new Brazilian political party, the Party of Socialism and Freedom, P-Sol.