South American regional integration is crucial to combat economic crises, former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told a meeting of South American leaders Wednesday.
Known simply as Lula, the influential leader also highlighted an issue with the press in Latin America, which serves financial interests and tries to undermine socialist and progressive political movements. He pointed to examples during recent elections in Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia, where he congratulated the people and governments for winning elections despite relentless media campaigns opposed to them.
“The media of the powerful financial centers demonized the political projects based on lies and prejudice. This has been a coordinated attack but the people have not been intimidated and voters have rejected the neoliberal agenda,” he said.
Lula delivered his lecture titled “Unity and Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean: Past, present and future,” during a meeting of the Union of South American Nations, taking place this Thursday and Friday in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Integration and Economy
In his speech, Lula recognized the important role of regional integration in overcoming the global economic crisis, which has created circumstances that hinder economic growth and the regional integration process.
“The more we integrate the more able we will be to overcome crisis. Integration is part of the solution.”
The former Brazilian president also stated that economic integration policies should be oriented around promoting inclusivity, equality and the strengthening of productive value chains.
He noted that achieving economic and social equality in the region couldn’t be attained exclusively through social policies. It must also include the promotion of small and medium sized businesses, as a means to generate higher income and create dignified employment.
Small- and medium-sized businesses are key in any country for income generation and the “democratization” of the economy, according to Lula.
Social integration and the notion of regional citizenship were also themes Lula stressed were important.
“The examples of other regional integration blocs show us that integration is only possible when there is an exchange of alliances. We have to support not only political and economic integration but also the integration of people and society,” he said.
On Friday, the leaders of the countries of the Unasur bloc will travel to Quito to inaugurate the new Unasur headquarters located in the Middle of World, about 18 miles north of the capital city.