The content originally appeared on: CNN
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the divisions in his country were no worse than the political split in the United States, in an exclusive CNN interview Friday ahead of his meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.
“Here there’s also a split, much more, or as serious as Brazil – Democrats and Republicans are very split up. Love it or leave it, that’s more or less what’s going on,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Washington, adding that Brazil does not have “a hatred culture.”
Both Lula and Biden saw their government buildings sacked in the aftermath of presidential elections by far-right elements that have posed huge tests for their respective democracies.
“Never could we imagine that in a country that was the symbol of democracy in the world – someone could try to invade the Capitol,” he said about the riots in the US.
The troubling similarities of the January 8 attack on Brasilia with the US insurrection attempt on January 6, 2021, includes former President Jair Bolsonaro’s close alignment with former US President Donald Trump.
Lula calls Bolsonaro a “faithful copycat of Trump,” saying both men “don’t enjoy trade unions. They don’t like (the) business sector. They don’t like workers, don’t like women. They don’t like Black people.”
Even so, Lula is not convinced all Bolsonaro supporters are ideologues. “I am convinced that not everybody that voted for Bolsonaro follows Bolsonarism,” he said.
His talks with Biden on Friday are expected to center around combating climate change and tackling anti-democratic extremism.
By extending an early invitation to Lula to visit the White House, Biden hopes to cultivate closer ties and demonstrate his support for one of the Western Hemisphere’s key players.
Biden quickly called Lula following his victory late last year, hoping to demonstrate support after Bolsonaro had laid the groundwork to question the election results. The move was received well among Lula’s officials, who saw it as a sign Biden was looking to restore US-Brazil ties.
They have met previously – when Biden was vice president, he met Lula on the sidelines of a gathering in Chile. But as counterparts, they will look to deepen what has traditionally been a key bilateral relationship in the Western Hemisphere, strained in recent years by the diametrically opposed Biden and Bolsonaro.