Page last updated at 22:57 GMT, Sunday, 13 September 2009 23:57 UK

Brazil's Lula blames rich for crisis

By Americo Martins
BBC World Service

President Lula says the crisis was the creation of "white, blue-eyed bankers"

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has heavily criticised the "rich countries", the G8 and other international bodies 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.

President 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.

President Lula 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."

It was the rich who were responsible for the crisis
President Lula

His criticism was also directed at the international economic institutions.

"The IMF didn't have a solution, it wasn't sure and didn't have an answer," he said.

"The World Bank didn't have a solution, it wasn't sure and didn't have an answer. And the governments also didn't!"

'Blue-eyed bankers'

President Lula also 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.

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He was criticised for using the expression, considered by some to be inappropriate and bordering on racism.

During his recent 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.

"It was the rich who were responsible for the crisis. And we weren't going to allow them to put the blame on the poor people of the world, as always happens when there is an economic crisis", President Lula said.

The president, however, seemed confident 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.

'No legitimacy'

President Lula defended the group, arguing that the G20 was becoming an important forum for debating and finding solutions for the economy.

But he also argues that the group should widen its goals and start implementing policies to speed up development.

"I hope... that the poor of the world, the emerging countries, are not only called upon to resolve the problem of the crisis and then, when the crisis is over, the G20 will be dissolved and we go back to the G8," he said.

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" which had "no legitimacy" to debate the current crisis.

President Lula was interviewed as part of BBC Two's Love of Money series.

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