Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday blamed the global economic crisis on “white people with blue eyes” and said it was wrong that black and indigenous people should pay for white people’s mistakes.
Speaking in Brasília at a joint press conference with Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, Mr Lula da Silva told reporters: “This crisis was caused by the irrational behaviour of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing.”
He added: “I do not know any black or indigenous bankers so I can only say [it is wrong] that this part of mankind which is victimised more than any other should pay for the crisis.”
Mr Brown appeared to distance himself from Mr Lula da Silva’s remarks. “I’m not going to attribute blame to any individuals,” he said.
Mr Brown was visiting Brazil as part of a five-day tour of Europe, the US and South America in preparation for the G20 summit to take place in London next Thursday. He made a joint appeal with Mr Lula da Silva for the world’s biggest economies to provide $100bn to boost global trade.
“I’m going to ask the G20 summit next week to support a global expansion of trade finance to reverse a slide in world trade,” Mr Brown said.
Mr Lula da Silva also spoke out strongly against raising trade barriers in response to the global crisis. “I compare protectionism to a drug,” he said. “Why do people use drugs? Because they are in crisis and they think the drug will help them. But its effects pass quickly.”
The two leaders’ remarks demonstrate the desire each will have to secure the other’s support during the G20 meeting.
Brazil – which has long campaigned unsuccessfully to be given a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council – will argue for a bigger voice for Brazil and other emerging nations in multilateral organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Forum, a group of central banks and national supervisory authorities established in 1999.
Brazil is one of many nations calling for increased regulation of global financial markets and greater powers for multilateral regulators.
It will also call for a resumption and conclusion of the Doha round of talks at the World Trade Organisation.
In return for supporting such initiatives, Mr Brown will expect Brazil to endorse calls for fiscal stimulus in a bid to mitigate the impact of the global crisis, such as the proposed $100bn in trade finance.