14 Sep 2009

Brazil's Lula blames rich countries for crisis

10:04 pm on 14 September 2009

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has heavily criticised the "rich countries" and international institutions over the global economic crisis.

"The rich countries are more to blame because they did not have any regulation for their financial system," he said in an exclusive interview with the BBC on the global downturn.

Mr Lula has positioned himself as a kind of informal spokesperson for the developing world since the beginning of the crisis.

He has been defending what he perceives as the interests of the poor in places such as Latin America, Africa and Asia and asking for changes in the global financial system.

He told the BBC that the governments of rich countries "knew how to give their opinion about everything related to the economy of the developing countries. But, when they felt the pain, they did not know how to act."

'White, blue-eyed bankers' targeted again

His criticism was also directed at the international economic institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, and he again insisted that the crisis was the creation of "white, blue-eyed bankers" in the rich world.

That expression first caused controversy in March, when the Brazilian leader used it while standing next to Gordon Brown during the UK prime minister's visit to Brasilia.

Some considered it to be bordering on racism. During the BBC interview, however, he was unrepentant.

"What I wanted to say is more noteworthy today than it was then. What I wanted to say was that it wasn't the indigenous or the black population who should pay the bill [for the crisis] but those really responsible, the blue-eyed bankers."

G20 preferred to 'closed club' of G8

The president seemed confident however that the leaders of the G20 group of developed and emerging countries could find solutions if they kept working together.

They will meet again to discuss the crisis in the US city of Pittsburgh on 24 and 25 September, and Brazil is hoping to influence the debate, calling for further changes to the financial system.

According to the Brazilian president, the G8 does not have the credibility to deal with the global economic challenges.

He said the G8 was "a closed club" that had "no legitimacy" to debate the current crisis.