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Elon Musk said he prefers to stay out of politics – his lobbying efforts, campaign donations and tweets say otherwise – CNBC



Tesla head Elon Musk talks to the press as he arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany.
Maja Hitij | Getty Images

Elon Musk has told his tens of millions of social media followers that he “would prefer to stay out of politics.”

Yet, with a mix of trash talk and big spending, the multibillionaire mogul behind Tesla and SpaceX has become a political force.


Musk himself has personally taken shots at politicians and government regulators, including digs at President Joe Biden and a recent sexually tinged insult aimed at a U.S. senator. Behind the scenes, Musk and his biggest companies, SpaceX and Tesla, have for years worked to influence the U.S. political landscape, including through lobbying and political donations. Combined, SpaceX and Tesla have spent over $2 million on lobbying this year.

Musk has also recently vocally opposed Biden’s support for organized labor. In particular, he objects to a tax credit proposal that would give a $4,500 discount to consumers buying electric vehicles made by unionized autoworkers, giving Big Three automakers an edge over Tesla, Toyota and others.

Musk has also ranted against a proposed billionaire’s income tax, accused federal vehicle safety regulators of anti-Tesla bias, and upbraided the Federal Aviation Administration for having a “fundamentally broken regulatory structure,” in his view.

His companies have put their money to work to influence the government in other ways. During the third quarter, which spanned from July through September, Tesla and SpaceX both lobbied Biden’s White House and other parts of his administration, according to recent disclosures.

Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, has spent just under $1.8 million this year alone on lobbying, after spending over $2 million last year, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Tesla, the electric car and renewable energy company he runs, has spent over $400,000 on federal lobbying this year through September, already more than it spent in the entirety of last year.

By way of comparison, Ford has spent $2.6 million on lobbying this year. (The company sells millions of vehicles annually, while Tesla has not yet surpassed 1 million deliveries in a single year.) Jeff Bezos’ aerospace venture, Blue Origin, has spent around $1.4 million on lobbying so far this year.

Musk, Tesla, SpaceX and the White House did not return requests for comment for this story.

Working with both sides

Even when he avoids commenting on a hot button issue, such as Texas’ restrictive abortion law, Musk makes political waves.

“In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” Musk told CNBC in a September tweet responding to a question about the Texas law. “That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.” Musk’s companies and private foundation are growing their operations substantially in Texas.

Musk hasn’t been shy about backing certain candidates, either.

In 2020, Musk verbally endorsed Andrew Yang as a Democratic candidate for president, based on Yang’s support of a universal basic income. He also called California’s coronavirus stay at home orders “fascist” and famously kept Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory running for weeks, openly defying the orders.

During that time, he tweeted “Take the red pill,” including a red rose emoji with the tweet. The “red pill” is a symbol from “The Matrix” co-opted by right wing extremists and others, while the red rose is a symbol used by the Democratic Socialists of America.

Musk has regularly contributed to candidates of both parties, too, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics that dates back to about 2002 (see chart below). Other business leaders such as longtime investors Nelson Peltz and Leon Cooperman employ the same bipartisan giving strategy.

Musk has contributed to a wide variety of campaigns, with the most recent Federal Election Commission filings showing he gave to the Republican National Committee. Those individual contributions do not include the SpaceX political action committee’s $210,000-plus in campaign contributions to congressional candidates from both sides of the aisle during the first half of 2021.

Musk, historically, has contributed slightly more to Democrats and their causes, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In the previous 2020 election cycle, Musk contributed to Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. He also gave to Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Musk’s companies also rely on lobbyists with links to both major parties.

Recently, Tesla and SpaceX hired at least two new lobbyists that have prior experience working on Capitol Hill.

Jonathan Carter, who was a legislative aide to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., became a policy advisor to Tesla in April, according to his LinkedIn page. Carter was a “lead staff member to Senator Blumenthal on Auto Safety, Census, Small Business, Sports, and Trade issues,” his profile says.

Blumenthal is a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, which has jurisdiction over highway safety, transportation and nonmilitary aeronautical and space science, among other items that impact Tesla’s business.

Blumenthal has publicly taken aim at Tesla’s driver assistance systems, marketed as Autopilot and Full Self-Driving software. In a tweet in September, Blumenthal said using this technology was a form of “Russian Roulette” for drivers.

Carter was among a group of Tesla lobbyists that in the third quarter lobbied Biden’s White House, the Departments of Energy and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Commerce. Carter’s team also engaged with House and Senate lawmakers last quarter.

A disclosure report shows that the lobbying effort by Tesla focused on a variety of issues, including solar permitting, autonomous vehicle related policies, infrastructure, the Highway Trust Fund and EV charging.

Meanwhile, over that same time period, Musk suggested at a conference in late September that he and Tesla were being treated unfairly because they weren’t invited to an electric vehicle summit at the White House.

“Does this sound maybe a little biased or something? And you know, just — it’s not the friendliest administration. Seems to be controlled by unions, as far as I can tell,” Musk said at the time. The White House summit was in August.

His space company in the third quarter also recently hired at least one former aide to a powerful senator and has engaged directly with Biden’s administration, including the White House.

Joseph Petrzelka, who was an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for over four years, became a global government affairs manager for SpaceX in September, according to his LinkedIn page. Feinstein is a member of the transportation, housing and urban development subcommittee, which is under the Senate Appropriations Committee. Their jurisdiction covers the Department of Transportation.

Though Petrzelka is not listed on SpaceX’s third quarter report, the company spent $590,000 directly lobbying lawmakers, including Biden’s Executive Office of the President, Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, the Department of Transportation, the National Security Council and the Federal Aviation Administration. NASA certified SpaceX in November 2020 to carry astronauts to-and-from orbit. SpaceX also lobbied members of Congress.

For its part, SpaceX has notched federal contracts worth a total of about $10.5 billion since 2003, most of that from its work with NASA. In 2021, those contracts have amounted to around $2 billion with $1.6 billion of that from NASA, according to data tracked by GovWin that was viewed by CNBC.

SpaceX is going through a tense, environmental review process that will determine whether they can start building out and launching their Starship vehicle from a site in Boca Chica, Texas, or whether they need to complete a more formal assessment that could cost them years.

The over $500,000 paid by SpaceX last quarter for lobbying does not include separate fees paid to outside government influencers.

SpaceX paid $90,000 in the third quarter to Invariant, which was founded by longtime lobbyist Heather Podesta, to lobby the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Transportation and Department of Interior, according to the latest disclosure report. Podesta, who has raised campaign money for Democrats for well over a decade, is one of the Invariant lobbyists engaging lawmakers for SpaceX.

The lobbying report says the firm attempted to influence the Biden administration for SpaceX to “support commercial launch provisions in NASA programs, appropriations, reconciliation, and S.1260, United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.”

SpaceX also hired Miller Strategies, which is run by Jeff Miller, a staunch ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, and former President Donald Trump. SpaceX paid the firm $30,000 in the third quarter to lobby the House and Senate on “issues as they relate to space transportation and space transportation costs,” according to the latest lobbying report. Miller was one of the lobbyists trying to influence lawmakers for SpaceX last quarter.

Regulatory fights

Musk’s battles with regulators are often public and messy.

After the National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated Tesla for vehicle safety defects this year, Musk accused them of bias.

One recent major NHTSA probe of Tesla will determine whether the company’s Autopilot driver assistance software was partly or wholly to blame in crashes that involved Tesla cars ramming into parked, first responder vehicles on the side of the road.

After that probe was underway, the White House said that it was appointing Steven Cliff to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and would also hire a former Navy fighter pilot and Duke University engineering and computer science professor, Missy Cummings, as a senior advisor for safety.

Musk targeted Cummings, a known Tesla critic, on Twitter, saying “objectively, her track record is extremely biased against Tesla.” Fans of Tesla and Musk began haranguing her on social media while attempting to deface her biography page on Wikipedia.

Cummings had industry experience as a board member for Veoneer, an autonomous vehicle tech company. Some Tesla fans asked whether that affiliation was a potential conflict of interest. Cummings resigned from the company’s board effective Nov. 1 having accepted the NHTSA job.

Meanwhile, Musk who has clashed with the NTSB for years, and Tesla have refused to adopt safety recommendations from the independent federal safety authority.

Musk has also expressed his displeasure with the SEC on multiple occasions on Twitter. In 2018, Musk and the commission reached a settlement over remarks Musk made about an ultimately abandoned plan to take Tesla private.

Twitter flame wars

Musk has taken multiple digs at Biden. When SpaceX launched a nonprofessional flight crew into orbit in September, for instance, Musk groused that the president did not personally call to congratulate the astronauts involved in the historic mission.

Musk has also taken aim at Biden by echoing a joke made by Trump. “He’s still sleeping,” Musk said at the time, almost mirroring the former president’s “Sleepy Joe” insults.

Politics can be personal for Musk, too, especially when it comes to the battle over his billions.

Musk has the highest estimated net worth in the world at over $300 billion, according to Forbes. He is one of about 700 people who would be effected by a new tax proposal from Democrats floated by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore. in October.

The proposal is for a tax on billionaires’ investment gains annually to help finance President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion safety net package. The so-called billionaire’s income tax would close a loophole that has enabled the super rich to defer capital gains taxes indefinitely, a strategy known as “buy, borrow, die.”

When Wyden published the billionaire’s income tax proposal, Musk vociferously objected on Twitter:

In recent days, the CEO asked his 62.5 million followers to vote in an informal Twitter poll to determine whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla holdings, and face a big tax bill.

In response, Wyden wrote in a tweet: “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll.”

Musk hit back at Wyden with a vulgar and disparaging tweet, saying “Why does your pp [profile picture] look like u just came?”

Wyden’s spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

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Letters to the editor: 'Many … are so concerned about the state of affairs in my province, yet they don't even live here … – The Globe and Mail



Open this photo in gallery:

UCP Leader Danielle Smith makes her victory speech in Calgary on May 29.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Cross country

Re “With Danielle Smith’s win, the Wildrose Party has firm control of Alberta” (May 31): The real question, and challenge, should be whether or not Ottawa will have firm control over Alberta.

Douglas Cornish Ottawa

Re “Majority rules” (Letters, May 31): Many letter-writers are so concerned about the state of affairs in my province, yet they don’t even live here.


We have businesses here. If the NDP had won, we would’ve had to pay higher taxes and utility rates and likely another record debt.

Ontarians should worry about the politics in their own province – that’s where they can have a voice for change.

Erica Forrest Red Deer, Alta.

World history

Re “Inquiry or not, foreign interference in Canada’s elections is part of a new Cold War that we cannot hide from” (Opinion, May 27): I think contributor Brian Lee Crowley is absolutely correct that our political leaders are out of date and naive regarding their views of authoritarian leaders.

After all, China created the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and Russia the Holodomor and Great Terror. Multiple millions of citizens died by their own leaders’ making.

I don’t think Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin would have any compunction to do to us what they would do to their own citizens. Alas, humankind hasn’t progressed very far.

Stephen Gill East Gwillimbury, Ont.

Rise and fall?

Re “Inflation is changing the way Canadians are spending” (Report on Business, May 27): No wonder so many Canadians are railing against apparent corporate greed and seemingly superfluous profit, at the expense of so many people’s basic nutritional necessities.

We see this appalling reality through the proliferating overreliance on food banks, as even the giant grocers become unaffordable to a growing populace. There’s unrelenting price inflation while corporate salaries and bonuses correspondingly inflate, yet it appears to never be enough.

There must be an imminent point at which the status quo will end up hurting big business’s monetary interests. One can imagine that a healthy, strong and large consumer base, and not just wealthy consumers, is needed, which would mean livable wages.

Or could it be that the unlimited-profit objective is somehow irresistible? It brings to mind the fox stung by the instinct-abiding scorpion while ferrying it across the river, leaving both to drown.

Frank Sterle Jr. White Rock, B.C.

Hit pause

Re “Equinor delays Bay du Nord project by at least three years” and “Worldwide additions to renewable energy capacity set to surge in 2023″ (Report on Business, June 1): A tipping point? We can only hope.

This news is good for those of us who see a dark future if we do not move away from fossil fuels. We may be seeing the beginnings of a path to a sustainable future for our energy-intensive civilization.

Now let’s keep the momentum. Take a closer look at investment policies for our funds and pension plans. Focus on derisking and avoiding stranded assets by investing in a green future.

Sharon Bider Toronto

Well read

Re “U.S.-style book bans could happen in Canada too, if we’re not careful” (Opinion, May 27): As a former teacher-librarian and school principal, I am appalled, but mostly saddened, by the frenzy to ban books.

The school library was the one place where students could wander freely. They were encouraged to pull books from the shelves to explore which ones to sign out. The freedom to choose from a vast variety of topics was one of the joys of being in the library.

Reading was a way to explore historical events and different cultures, identities and points of view. The exploration of new ideas was encouraged. Parents always had the right to decide which books their child should or should not read, but could not make the choice for other parents.

I worry about the future in which my grandchildren will live. How narrow-thinking will the populace become if only one point of view is allowed to prevail? This kind of narrow-mindedness frightens me.

Phyllis Levin Toronto

Freedom of thought is the last freedom. Banning books will likely make the public want to read them more.

Banning a book because an author is Black or queer is a suppression of a person’s right to free expression as a human being. I believe Florida’s directive to ban books and worried parents’ attempts to mould their children’s minds is futile.

Curious minds inevitably want to know more, and rightfully so.

Diane Sullivan Toronto

Before retirement, I was a teacher-librarian.

One day, an outraged mother marched in with a non-fiction book on the Salem witch trials and demanded to know why it was on the shelves, and why her Grade 8 son had been allowed to sign it out. I remained calm and explained to her that books on the shelves were all well-reviewed and appropriate for students.

I told her that this book was a carefully researched account of an episode of mass hysteria in history. I also encouraged her to fill out a form to request reconsideration of library materials.

She harrumphed her way out the door. I displayed the book on the recommended-reading table. The form was never returned.

It seems that we are in the midst of another frightening outbreak of mass hysteria. And, yes, it is time to “make a fuss.”

Dianne Harke Edmonton

Eat it

Re “Our innate urge to own beautiful objects doesn’t make us shallow” (Opinion, May 27): Contributor Phoebe Maltz Bovy writes that she is “never sure what to do” with, for example, information about the food industry: “Factory farming is bad, but so, too, is food production of all kinds, rife with toxins and exploitation … everything is terrible, and yet we all need to eat.” But everything is not equally bad.

If I choose lentils or tofu rather than chicken or beef as a protein additive for my curry or spaghetti sauce, they may be associated with some harms. But those pale by comparison with the harms produced by the factory farming of animals.

Exploitation is typically worse in slaughterhouses than on soybean or lentil farms, and the environmental and climate change impacts of animal agriculture are far greater. Plus, if I choose lentils or tofu, what I’m eating will not have required the deliberate killing of birds or mammals.

The choices we make really do make a difference.

Mauree Okun Nanaimo, B.C.

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Keep letters to 150 words or fewer. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:

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Johnston hired crisis communications firm as he prepared report on foreign interference



David Johnston, Canada’s special rapporteur on foreign interference, has hired a firm known for its crisis communications to support him — and taxpayers are footing the bill, CBC News has learned.

Valérie Gervais, a spokesperson for Johnston, confirmed that the former governor general, appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to investigate foreign interference in Canadian politics, first retained Navigator at the start of his mandate as special rapporteur to provide “communications advice and support.”

Navigator calls itself a “high-stakes strategic advisory and communications firm” that offers a range of services. Its slogan is, “When you can’t afford to lose.”

Hockey Canada hired the firm to help it through the fallout from its handling of sexual abuse allegations and use of players’ registration fees to quietly pay out settlements. A Hockey Canada executive confirmed the organization paid Navigator more than $1.6 million to guide it through its public relations nightmare.


Before resigning his position, Ottawa’s police chief Peter Sloly hired Navigator to help with communications during the convoy protest in Ottawa that shut down the downtown core of the capital for more than three weeks.

Police enforce an injunction against protesters taking part in the convoy protest in Ottawa on Feb. 19, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Navigator’s work for Johnston has included drafting press releases, preparing him for interviews, analyzing news media reports and social media and providing logistical support for the release of his first report on foreign interference, Gervais said in a written statement sent to CBC News.

“Navigator has had no involvement in [Johnston’s] investigation or the development of his conclusions, and has not been privy to any classified materials,” she wrote.

Johnston is set to appear for three hours before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday to discuss his report on foreign interference by China’s government.

The House of Commons passed an NDP motion earlier this week, with Conservative and Bloc Québécois support, calling on Johnston to step down from his high-profile role.

CBC News asked for an estimate of how much taxpayers are paying for Navigator’s services to Johnston. His office said Johnston’s “work is ongoing and as such final costs are not available at this time.”

“In accordance with the Terms of Reference and Treasury Board policies, the Independent Special Rapporteur is authorized to incur necessary expenses to conduct an independent review,” Gervais wrote.

“These services were retained in accordance with Treasury Board policies, and are subject to any necessary disclosures.”


Trudeau sticking with Johnston as opposition demands his ouster


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says parties are playing partisan games off the back of David Johnston’s appointment as special rapporteur on foreign interference, and reiterated Johnston’s impartiality and engagement with different federal parties throughout his political career.

Along with Navigator, Johnston also hired the Ottawa-based communications company RKESTRA to provide “media relations support” related to the release of his first report.

RKESTRA’s website currently lists Gervais as the founder and CEO of the company.

Her LinkedIn profile says she has a “decade and a half of experience advising high-profile employers.” She worked as a spokesperson at Rideau Hall in 2019 when Julie Payette was governor general — before Payette resigned in 2021 in the wake of a report that found she presided over a toxic workplace.

Gervais was also press secretary to then-justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2016.

Johnston also hired the international law firm Torys LLP to provide “legal, investigative and drafting support,” wrote Gervais.

In a media statement, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the “Liberals have missed the mark and consistently failed to reassure Canadians that their elections are free of interference.”

“Hiring a crisis communications firm suggests to Canadians the Liberals’ main concern is how this looks — not getting to the bottom of a very serious issue.”

Singh said that if the Liberals had launched a public inquiry, “taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for another crisis management service.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner tweeted that she’s “scratching her head” at this move to hire Navigator and said the firm has “exposed itself to potential weeks” of “questioning by all opposition parties.”

A spokesperson for the Conservatives, Sebastian Skamski, said hiring Navigator has “given Canadians yet another reason to demand an open and independent inquiry.” He said Johnston is wasting Canadians’ “hard earned tax dollars”.

CBC News asked Navigator for comment. The firm said “it is Navigator’s policy not to comment on our client engagements.”

Opposition critics have claimed Johnston’s appointment is tainted due to his connections to the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation and the prime minister’s family. Johnston has said the family connection is overstated, while the Conservatives have called him a “ski buddy” and “personal friend” of Trudeau.

Trudeau said Friday he’s committed to keeping Johnston in his role and looks forward to public hearings Johnston is expected to hold in the coming months before releasing his final report this fall.



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South America: A hard road to unity – Al Jazeera English



Unlike other parts of the world, Latin America is free of war. Yet it is a region plagued by inequality, crime, corruption, drug trafficking and social upheaval. Political stability and strong democratic institutions are more the exception than the rule.

South America, in particular, never seems to stop moving from one extreme to the other, shifting from the political left to the right and back again, without addressing the social and economic demands responsible for moving the pendulum.

Such instability has made it difficult for the continent to form an influential bloc, despite estimates that it collectively represents the fifth-largest global economy.


Earlier this week, all 12 South American countries, represented by 11 presidents and Peru’s prime minister, gathered in Brasilia to give another crack at the elusive goal of continental integration. Spearheading the effort was Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“What he is trying to achieve is the unity of South America,” Lula’s chief adviser, former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, told me.

“I think it’s always been important, but it’s now even more important in a world which is progressively divided in blocs. I think, in a world like that, even a country like Brazil — which is very populous and has a huge economy — is not big enough alone.”

But while Lula is still considered the region’s most influential leader, many at Tuesday’s summit were not willing to follow his advice.

Lula had hoped to revive UNASUR, the South American bloc that he had helped create 15 years earlier during his first two terms as president. But ideological disputes eventually convinced more than half of its member countries to abandon the organisation.

“It’s better not to start from zero,” Lula said at this week’s summit, as he pitched reconvening UNASUR.

But he was unable to convince all of his peers who, in the end, chose to assemble a group with members from each country to work on a plan for regional integration over the next 120 days.

Lula had appealed to South American leaders to put aside their ideological differences and concentrate on common interests, including economic growth, energy production and environmental protection.

But his decision to welcome Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro the day before the summit led to open criticism. In his remarks, Lula had dismissed the image of an “anti-democratic” Venezuela as a “narrative” promoted by Western countries and the media.

But Chilean President Gabriel Boric said that, as a left-wing president, he disagreed.

“It’s not a narrative construction. It is a reality. It is serious,” Boric said. He added that respect for human rights was “basic and important” for Chile, no matter the ideology of those who violate them.

Milestone for Maduro

For President Maduro, the meeting was an important milestone. For years, he had been isolated from his South American peers — Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Argentina, for example — after many chose not to recognise his re-election in 2018, opting instead to support an opposition government.

During hours of closed-door meetings at this week’s summit, Maduro faced direct criticism of his human rights record from at least two presidents, but he did not take up the glove.

“We have no problem sitting down to talk with any political force or president in a respectful, tolerant dialogue of unity in diversity. That is what we had here,” Maduro said when the meeting ended.

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro, his Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernandez and Chile’s Boric — all left-wing figures — were among the majority who agreed that at no time in history has South America shown such economic potential.

It is home to the largest reserves of copper and the highly sought-after lithium used in rechargeable batteries. The region also has the potential to become the largest producer of green hydrogen and other sources of sustainable energy. And it has huge reserves of freshwater, rainforests and an increasingly — though not sufficiently — educated population.

But South America’s economic and political disparities have frustrated decades of attempts to create regional unions. UNASUR has not been the only bloc to flounder. MERCOSUR — a union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — has also struggled amid internal disputes.

What is needed is more pragmatism, according to some experts. And the current immigration crisis in South America could help spur it.

More than seven million Venezuelans have left their homeland since 2015, according to the United Nations. If countries like Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia want to repatriate undocumented Venezuelans and institute an orderly system of legal migration, some observers believe they will need Maduro’s cooperation.

Boric referred to cooperation with Venezuela to resolve the crisis at the Chile-Peruvian border.

“Together, with the governments of Peru and Venezuela, through a dialogue with Venezuela’s foreign minister, we were able to resolve this crisis and allow a Venezuelan aeroplane to return citizens of that country to their homeland,” said Boric.

Following the EU model?

Amorim, Lula’s adviser, pointed to the European Union as a model for how South American nations can proceed to build a new bloc, even with a diversity of political opinions.

“You have several political positions In Europe. You have governments of the centre-right. You have governments which one might say are even more right than centre-right. And you have the centre-left governments,” Amorim said. “And still, on some subjects at least, they are able to speak — if not with one single voice — at least in a coherent way.”

Lula’s dream of a united South America, however, is still a long way from success. But politicians like Amorim see hope in Europe’s example. The 12 countries of South America, after all, are much more culturally and linguistically similar than the members of the European Union.

“Of course, there will be different views,” Amorim said of a possible South American bloc. “But we have common interests in many respects. We have to work for our interests in a unified way. Because like that, we have more strength.”

There is a lot to be gained and no time to lose, Lula explained at the summit, as he referenced South America’s long history of being under the shadow of powerful economic and political powers, stretching back to the earliest days of colonialism.

“We cannot wait another 500 years in the margins,” he warned.

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