HAVANA, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Brazil intends to restore trade and political ties with Cuba, a top foreign policy aide to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday after meeting with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana.
Relations between Brazil and Cuba, which were strong when Lula’s leftist Workers Party governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, deteriorated under far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.
In 2019, the first year of the Bolsonaro administration, Brazil for the first time voted against an annual United Nations resolution condemning and calling for an end to the U.S. economic embargo on Communist-ruled Cuba.
But with Lula back in office since January to serve his third non-consecutive term, Latin America’s largest economy has been looking to once again strengthen its ties with the Caribbean island nation.
“We want to make the relationship between Brazil and Cuba one of great friendship,” Lula’s adviser Celso Amorim said during the trip to Havana.
“That will contribute to peace in our region, and that’s the greatest goal of diplomacy, alongside economic growth,” said Amorim, who previously served as foreign minister under both Lula and former President Itamar Franco.
Amorim also said that groups of health experts and representatives from Brazil’s agricultural sector will soon travel to Cuba.
Cuba was a key part of Brazil’s “More Doctors” program, an initiative launched in 2013 that recruited foreign doctors to work mainly in remote areas of the country.
Bolsonaro was a critic of the program and halted it when in power, a decision that led to tension with the Cuban government.
Lula and Diaz-Canel had already held talks in June in Paris, in a meeting the Cuban leader described as “fraternal.”
Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien