Lula and Bernie

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva shakes hands with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during their February 10, 2023 meeting in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: @ricardostuckert/Twitter)

Bernie Sanders, US Progressives Meet Lula Ahead of Brazilian President's First White House Visit

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Sanders is a member, said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's election "has given hope to democratic and progressive movements around the world."

Ahead of his first White House meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met Friday with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said topics of discussion included the far-right threat, combatting the climate and environmental emergencies, and supporting workers.

"I enjoyed a productive meeting this morning with President Lula of Brazil and his cabinet," Sanders said in a statement. "Our countries share many challenges, including the threat of right-wing authoritarians who seek to undermine democratic institutions in both countries."

"I am very impressed that in his short visit to the United States, Lula chose to speak to the AFL-CIO," he added. "In that regard, we discussed ways to build an economy that serves all people, not just the wealthy and large corporations. We also discussed ways to advance workers' rights and build strong unions."

Sanders continued:

Unlike his predecessor, Lula understands the enormous threat that climate change poses to our planet. We discussed ideas of how to increase international cooperation to preserve the environment for future generations. Scientists tell us that deforestation will have a devastating impact on climate change and the planet, and it is imperative that the United States work with Brazil and other countries to protect the Amazon.

If ever there was a time for international solidarity on these shared challenges, this is it. My hope and expectation is that the United States and Brazil will build a stronger partnership to address these crises.

Da Silva said on Twitter that he "had the pleasure" of meeting Sanders, who was an outspoken advocate for his release after the former president—he also served from 2003-2010—was imprisoned on what critics called politically motivated corruption charges in 2018.

"We talked about democracy, the trade union movement, and better rights and jobs for workers," da Silva added.

Three other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—also met with da Silva.

"It was an honor to meet with President Lula da Silva this morning, whose election has given hope to democratic and progressive movements around the world," the caucus said in a statement. "We had a productive discussion on our shared commitments to environmental, social, and economic justice."

"We also discussed opportunities to deepen U.S.-Brazilian cooperation in the fight against authoritarianism, strengthen relationships between legislators of the two countries, and a shared agenda for economic justice and freedom that can combat the appeals of right-wing extremism," the statement said.

Later Friday, da Silva met with Biden as part of a reboot of U.S.-Brazilian relations following the right-wing presidencies of Donald Trump and Bolsonaro, the so-called "Trump of the Tropics."

Last month, Bolsonaro—who has been in the United States since just before da Silva's inauguration—applied for a six-month tourist visa as his legal woes, including an investigation of his role in the January 8 insurrection, mount.

WATCH LIVE: Biden meets with Brazil's President Lula da Silva to discuss climate, democracywww.youtube.com

At an afternoon press conference in the White House's Oval Office, da Silva told Biden through a translator that "the United States and the rest of the world can count on Brazil in the fight for democracy and the fight for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest."

Biden said that "we have to continue to stand up for democracy and our democratic values that form the core of our strength," while asserting the two presidents were on "the same page" about the climate emergency.

"Lula, he has everything on the table right now to be a democratic champion, given what happened in Brazil over the past month and a half," Thiago de Aragão, a senior associate of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, toldPBS NewsHour, referring to the January 8 attack by Bolsonaro supporters on the country's Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace in a failed bid to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

"So, having seen Biden in a similar situation during January 6, this is something that they can together focus on," he added.

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