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Montevideo, July 25th 2024 - 05:40 UTC



Meeting between Lula and Arce signals new era of bilateral ties

Wednesday, July 10th 2024 - 08:54 UTC
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Arce told Lula that Bolivia wanted to join BRICS after entering Mercosur Arce told Lula that Bolivia wanted to join BRICS after entering Mercosur

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told his Bolivian counterpart Luis Arce Catacora during their encounter in Santa Cruz de la Sierra that “there is no individual way out in South America,” Agencia Brasil reported. Both leaders agreed that the bilateral meeting spelled the beginning of a “new era” in bilateral ties now that Bolivia is a full member of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur). It was Lula's first trip to Bolivia during his third term in office while Arce has been to Brazil four times in the past 12 months.

“There is no individual way out for any country in South America. Either we get together, form a bloc, make joint decisions, and implement them, or we will continue for another century as developing countries,” said Lula.

“We have signed several projects to strengthen the capacity of public agents to combat human trafficking, [and] drug trafficking, and improve migration management. We also began negotiations to make it possible for Brazilians to access public healthcare in Bolivia and, likewise, for Bolivians to use the Unified Health System in Brazil,” he added.

Lula also mentioned the projects to install a fertilizer factory on the dry border between the two countries, between Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Porto Quijaro, and the construction of a binational bridge over the Mamoré River, between Guajará-Mirim, in Rondônia, and Guayaramerín, in Bolivia.

Arce was keen on connectivity and integration. “One of the ways to tackle all the problems we have in the region is through the physical integration of the infrastructures we need. We have already made progress on many issues, but physical integration is the one we emphasize the least. Bolivia is at the heart of South America, at the heart between the Atlantic and the Pacific. We are an important player for all of us to integrate, and we want to be that integration process,” the Bolivian leader also said.

Lula also spoke about the failed coup d'état in La Paz. “The Bolivian people had already tasted the bitterness of the 2019 coup d'état and now they have been struck by the attempt of June 26. On the eve of celebrating its bicentenary in 2025, Bolivia cannot fall into this trap again. We cannot tolerate authoritarian daydreams and coups. We have an enormous responsibility to defend democracy against attempts to roll it back. All over the world, the disunity of democratic forces has only served the extreme right,” he underlined.

Arce highlighted the importance of Brazil's support in this regard: “Brazil, for us, represents a president who is a mentor, who has a lot of influence worldwide and knows very well what happened in our country.”

Brazil will be hosting in November the G20 Summit. Lula invited Arce to attend the event as a guest since Bolivia is not a member of the group bringing together the world's most important economy. In South America, only Brazil and Argentina are part of the forum.

“I made a point of inviting Bolivia to take part in the G20 Summit in November and to join the Global Alliance to Fight Hunger and Poverty, which will be launched by the Brazilian presidency,” he said.

The Bolivian president also expressed his interest in joining BRICS, a bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa, which was expanded this year to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Iran. Argentina had been admitted to join but eventually declined following President Javier Milei's inauguration.

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