- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2003

President Bush and President Lula da Silva of Brazil had a cordial meeting in Washington on June 20, 2003. Cabinet ministers from both countries agreed on joint projects in agriculture, energy and combating AIDS in Portuguese-speaking Africa. There was also discussion about economic and trade matters. President Lula da Silva said Brazil wants a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and that he is supported by “many people in the world and all of Latin America.” He also told the Brazilian press after the meeting that “we do not have to be friends, but can still have civilized relations”.

The Brazilian president, known as Lula, has conducted a conventional economic policy that pleases domestic and foreign investors and that sets the stage for his goal of greatly increasing Brazilian exports to the United States. As a result, many observers and Wall Street seem pleasantly surprised. However, there are other aspects of Lula’s presidency that deserve discussion in Washington.

At the same time, he is working to continue business relations, Lula is also taking open and secret actions to assist his allies, who are also Fidel Castro’s allies, to take power in other Latin American countries. I previously predicted that Lula as well as the other leaders of the new pro-Castro axis — Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Lucio Gutierrez of Ecuador — would implement such a “two-level” strategy: normal diplomatic and business relations at one level combined with a parallel strategy of open and secret support for radical, pro-Castro political and armed groups in Latin America such as the communist narcoterrorist FARC and ELN of Colombia.

For nearly 30 years, Lula has been a public supporter and admirer of Mr. Castro. In 1966, Mr. Castro founded the “Tricontinental Congress” to increase collusion among anti-U.S. terrorists from Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. In 1990, he joined with Lula as convener to rename this group the “Forum of Sao Paulo,” which annually brings together many radical and communist political movements and guerrillas; as well as international communist and terrorist groups. Members include the Sandinistas, FMLN, URNG, FARC, ELN, the Cuban communists, the MVR Party of Hugo Chavez, and Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party. Regular international observers include the Palestine Liberation Organization, Irish Republican Army, Spain’s Basque separatist ETA, Chinese Communist Party, representatives from North Korea, Iran, Libya and formerly the Iraqi Ba’athist Party.

The Forum’s “Central Document” for its December 2002 meeting accused U.S. troops of genocide and massacres in Kosovo and Afghanistan and claimed the war in Iraq was to be waged for oil and corporate interests. Forum resolutions produced at the end of its meetings include support for the Taliban in Afghanistan (as late as December 2001) as well as for Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Through the Forum, Lula’s Workers’ Party coordinates with similar movements in Latin America and the rest of the world. For example, under Lula da Silva, Brazil (as well as Cuba) has been a key ally for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, providing oil and other kinds of foreign aid during the anti-Chavez, prodemocratic strike there earlier this year. The Workers’ Party has also built relations with the Chinese Communist Party, starting with a party-to-party relationship in 1999. More recently, Lula expanded the government-to-government “strategic partnership” between Brazil and China.

The Workers’ Party and Lula are major figures in the ideology and resolutions of the Forum. Therefore, it is not surprising that, in the months prior to the recent liberation of the Iraqi people, Lula da Silva criticized, and called any U.S. military action there “illegitimate.”

In contrast, the Brazilian government under Lula refused to condemn Cuba for its recent repression and executions. In fact, Lula has urged that Mr. Castro attend all Latin American summit meetings ,and Brazil has stated it will reject any OAS resolution against Cuba. Lula’s chief of staff, Jose Dirceu, who received undercover and guerrilla training in Cuba and who considers himself “Cuban-Brazilian and Brazilian-Cuban” states that regarding this issue, he is “embarrassed” to speak out against Cuba as one might be embarrassed to speak against one’s mistaken father. Mr. Dirceu is now so influential in the Lula administration that the New York Times recently called him considered “Lula’s shadow.”

This ideological context also explains the Lula government’s refusal to declare the communist narcoterrorist FARC of Colombia a terrorist organization, as the Colombian government requested and as the U.S. State Department has done for years. Lula’s key foreign affairs adviser, Marco Aurelio Garcia, said Brazil would never condemn a movement that “can become tomorrow’s rulers.” For several years, Mr. Garcia has reportedly traveled to Colombia to meet with the FARC, a member of the Forum. Moreover, in March 2002 Lula’s Worker’s Party formed a solidarity committee with the FARC.

Mr. Garcia has directed Workers’ Party’s international affairs since its founding. He also worked with Cuban operatives to radicalize the deposed Salvador Allende government in Chile and serves as the secretary-general for the Forum of Sao Paulo. In a recent article, Mr. Garcia stated that the conditions for worldwide communist revolution still exist and called for the “refoundation” of communism.

The facts show that while continuing normal business relations, Lula’s government is embarked on a course to build a radical coalition of Latin American states that will be pro-Castro, politically hostile to the U.S., and ever more aligned with a Communist China that seeks to shift the geopolitical balance against America.

This does not yet require an open confrontation. Rather, President Bush needs to be given the facts about the new pro-Castro axis, and the United States needs to help the people of Latin America who seek to maintain political freedom within their own countries and peaceful relations with their neighbors in the hemisphere.

Constantine C. Menges, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, served as special assistant for national security affairs to President Reagan. His latest book is “2008: The Preventable War — The Strategic Challenge of China and Russia.”

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