Brazilian president Lula da Silva warned his peer Barack Obama that South America “does not need US bases” in Colombia to combat narcotics trade and suggested he look after “US drugs consumers”.
“Dear friend Obama: we don’t need US bases in Colombia to combat narcotics trade in South America. We can look after combating narcotics trade inside our borders and you must look after your drugs’ consumers. That way we’ll have a better world”, said the Brazilian president in direct reference to the Colombia/US accord for the use of Colombian military bases by US forces.
Lula da Silva was addressing the congress of the Communist party an ally of his administration.
The Brazilian president has been critical of the Colombia/US treaty from a beginning and said the task of fighting narcotics trade in South America belonged to Unasur (Union of South American Nations), which includes a South American Defence Council and in a near future in “this framework we are going to organize a council to combat the narcotics trade”.
However he was also quick to point out that Brazil, Latinamerica’s largest economy, must not act with a hegemonic spirit in South American affairs.
“Brazil must not behave as if it had hegemony over the region. It must be the main symbol and guarantee of unity inside Unasur, the eldest member, the member that has the capacity to work for unity, to build bridges, to establish dialogue”.
With this purpose in mind he said that one of the main integrating instruments for the region is the Bank of the South, set to finance infrastructure projects in the region, “that is our World Bank”.
Lula da Silva mentioned as an example of a positive alliance for the region the cooperation policies with Venezuela and underlined the need for Brazil to reduce its trade surplus with several countries of the region to help “with a better balance”.
“Venezuela has a trade deficit of five billion USD with us because it has nothing to sell us and that is why we are helping them to create production lines in food and other light industries. We’re opening a joint refinery so they can sell us oil”, pointed out Lula da Silva.
“The role of Brazil, given its size, is to favour integration and fairness” in the region promoting joint development policies.