| 5 December 2021, Sunday |

Macron hosts Brazil’s Lula at French presidential palace in apparent dig at Bolsonaro

On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron met former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for a meeting at the Elysee Palace, a rare honor showing support for a competitor of Brazil’s far-right incumbent with whom the French leader has sparred.

Lula, a former union leader who served as President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, is widely expected to run against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, though neither has formally registered his candidacy.

Macron’s office stated in an official statement following the meeting at the French presidential palace that Lula “expressed his perspective of Brazil’s position in the world, highlighting how, over the past three years, Brazil has established itself apart from the multilateral system and key international agreements.”

The statement appeared to be a thinly veiled jab at Bolsonaro, with whom Macron has disagreed on a number of issues, including the implementation of the Paris climate agreement and the EU-Mercosur trade talks.

In Rome last month, videos from G20 activities showed Bolsonaro as a lonely figure who was not included in a photo taken with other international leaders at the Trevi Fountain.

Since taking office, Bolsonaro has railed against the enforcement of environmental regulations in Brazil, announced intentions to develop the Amazon region, questioned the severity of the coronavirus, shunned lockdowns, sowed vaccine doubts and pushed unproven cures.

In 2019, Bolsonaro mocked Macron’s wife and accused him of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty because of the French leader’s criticism of deforestation. Macron called Bolsonaro a liar, adding Brazilian women were “probably ashamed” of him.

Lula holds a commanding double-digit lead in opinion polls over Bolsonaro, whose popularity has plummeted over his handling of the world’s second-deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, high unemployment and rising inflation.