Venezuela and Brazil formally restore ties

Maduro is expected to travel to Brasilia for a summit with Lula next week where they may sign cooperation agreements

May 25, 2023 by Lucas Estanislau
Manuel Vadell was appointed ambassador by Maduro in December 2022. Photo: Presidency/Ricardo Stuckert

Venezuela’s new ambassador to Brazil, Manuel Vadell, delivered his diplomatic credentials to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Wednesday afternoon May 24, in an act that formalized the reestablishment of relations between the two countries.

Vadell had been appointed by Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, in December 2022, even before Lula took office. After the ceremony, Maduro said that the normalization of relations between Brazil and Venezuela is “a great step” that constitutes “a new starting point for the consolidation of the union between both brotherly peoples.”

The presence of a new Venezuelan ambassador in Brazil ends a three-year period in which the neighboring country did not have its diplomatic representatives recognized by the Brazilian government. This is because the previous government of former president Jair Bolsonaro had decided to recognize Juan Guaidó’s parallel government and, consequently, its allies as legitimate diplomats.

Lula’s arrival to the presidency put an end to a policy of hostilities against Caracas initiated by the Bolsonaro government, which included the closing of the Brazilian embassy in Venezuela and the expulsion of Venezuelan diplomats in Brazil.

In a statement, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said that Lula’s victory in the elections “allowed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations directed by the struggle for a new world order based on respect for the self-determination of peoples.”

Brazil, for its part, has had a chargé d’affaires in Venezuela since January to reopen the embassy and reactivate consular services. Diplomat Flávio Macieira spoke to Brasil de Fato in March and defended the rapprochement between the two countries.

Last Wednesday, a delegation from the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) visited Venezuela, marking the first technical visit of members of the Brazilian government since the beginning of the new Workers’ Party government’s mandate. The mission was formed by representatives of several Brazilian technical agencies who met with their Venezuelan counterparts to discuss the status of existing agreements between the countries.

The group was headed by ABC director Ruy Pereira, who was Brazil’s last ambassador to Venezuela. Pereira was declared persona non grata by Caracas in late 2017 and was expelled from the country. At the time, the Venezuelan government justified the decision by arguing that the ousting of former President Dilma Rousseff was unconstitutional and therefore could not keep an ambassador from a government considered illegitimate.

During his visit last Thursday May 18, Pereira was received by President Nicolás Maduro and also met with Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yván Gil.

Brazilian government sources who spoke to Brasil de Fato said that the visit served to review existing agreements between Brazil and Venezuela and, possibly, elaborate new agreements. Also according to the sources consulted by the report, the expectation is that in the next few days President Nicolás Maduro will visit Brazil to participate in the meeting between South American presidents on May 30 and, during a meeting with Lula, both will sign a first memorandum for the reestablishment of cooperation agreements.

This piece was first published in Portuguese at Brasil de Fato.