Biden frustrates Brazil's Lula da Silva at U.N. after on stage snub
President Biden looked dazed and confused on Wednesday when he walked right into a flag on stage at the United Nations, and almost set off a minor international incident by snubbing Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva
September 21, 2023 9:13am
Updated: September 21, 2023 9:13am
President Biden looked dazed and confused on Wednesday when he walked right into a flag on stage at the United Nations, and almost set off a minor international incident by snubbing Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva.
The former Delaware senator turned president seemed to rile Brazil’s president after he walked off stage without shaking his hand.
Biden, who is the oldest U.S. president in history literally collided right into a seven-foot-tall Brazilian flag as he walked on stage, taking a moment to collect himself while the South American the flag wobbled.
Biden then had trouble with the headset of his U.N. translation device, a gaffe noted by the Brazilian president who was waiting to give a joint speech with the 46th president.
The dual speeches were a planned announcement of a Brazil-U.S. bilateral agreement based on cooperation with workers’ rights.
“Can you hear me, President Biden? This is a historic moment for Brazil and for the U.S.,” the Brazilian president asked.
When he did not immediately respond, Lula repeated himself, asking, “President Biden can you hear me?”
Once the two finished, Biden shook hands with International Labor Organization Director-General Gilbert Huongbo, but then turned and strolled off stage while Lula stood alone extending his hand.
But instead of shaking hands with the South American leader, Biden waved to the audience, saluted and drifted off stage in what appeared to be a state of confusion.
As he left, onlookers noted that Lula looked annoyed and made a frustrated gesture with his arm.
The incident was described by the New York Post as “just the latest gaffe from Biden, who has faced escalating concerns over his age as he runs to remain president in 2024.”
The Post reported that it contacted Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the White House for comment.
“Despite Biden’s apparent snub, the two presidents did agree to forge a stronger relationship, as they spoke of their commitment to creating well-paying jobs and ensuring that workers benefit from the digital and green energy transition,” the Post reported.
The American president said the partnership between the two countries over workers’ rights only involved Brazil and the United States for the moment, but he invited other nations and organizations to join.
Lula told the U.N. it was important to uphold the rights of workers and help working amid impending threats to democracies throughout the world,
“It’s more than just another bilateral [partnership],” Lula said.
“It’s a faith relationship that we are building here and a new era for U.S.-Brazilian relations amongst equal partners,” he said, adding, “poverty and inequality is not in the interest of anybody.”
Lula was elected president of Brazil last October in a cutting edge election where he narrowly defeated former military officer, Jair Bolsanaro, his conservative rival.
The Brazilian president assumed office on Jan. 1, 2023, and faced a challenging entry to his presidency as thousands of Bolsanaro supporters rioted the Congress in Brasilia in protest one week later on Jan. 8, claiming the election was stolen.