Macron rekindles France-Brazil relationship in widely memed Lula visit

Macron rekindles France-Brazil relationship in widely memed Lula visit

If the official photos are anything to go by, Emmanuel Macron’s three-day trip to Brazil has been more romantic getaway than international diplomacy.

The French president, who ended his tour of the South American country on Thursday with a state visit to the capital, Brasília, prompted online hilarity after the publication of photos showing him being particularly chummy with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Macron, 46, began his visit on Tuesday in Belém, the Amazonian city that will host the Cop30 climate conference next year, and the nearby Combu island.

two men in white shirts holding hands in a forest smilingView image in fullscreen

In one photo released on 78-year-old Lula’s social media channels, the two beaming heads of state can be seen clasping hands on a boat while gazing out at the Guamá River. In another, they appear to be blithely skipping under the Amazon canopy.

Quick-witted internet users compared the images to engagement photoshoots or scenes from a romcom.

“Lula and Macron are doing a pre-wedding shoot, they will marry in the Amazon and honeymoon in Paris,” one X user wrote.

“I see a new Macron/Lula family Christmas card dropping,” tweeted Ian Bremmer, the founder of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Memes circulating online depicted the former investment banker and former union leader clutching heart-shaped balloons.

Macron’s visit – his first as president – marks a rekindling of the Franco-Brazilian partnership after relations hit a low point under Lula’s far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who took issue with France’s concerns over Amazon deforestation.

Lula and Macron stressed their shared environmental objectives earlier this week while announcing a €1bn (£855m) investment programme to protect the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and French Guiana.

They also celebrated cooperation on defence technology during the launch near Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday of a diesel-powered submarine, built in Brazil with French technology.

“We are starting a new page of our relationship today,” Macron said on Thursday during a joint press conference following a closed-doors bilateral meeting and the signing of over 20 cooperation agreements.

two men in suits holding hands closely with people in ceremonial military dress behind themView image in fullscreen

Speaking to journalists, the two leaders emphasised their desire to work together on issues such as fighting poverty, tackling the climate crisis and global taxation at the G20 leaders’ summit in Rio later this year. Macron also hailed their shared vision regarding upcoming elections in Venezuela and the crisis in Haiti.

But they skirted issues upon which they do not see eye-to-eye, notably regarding the war in Ukraine and the future of a trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc. Speaking to business leaders in São Paulo on Wednesday, Macron described the deal Brazil has said it is ready to sign as “very bad”.

Late on Thursday, Macron responded to social media users on X. “Some have compared the pictures of my visit to Brazil to those of a wedding,” Macron wrote. “I tell them it was one. France loves Brazil and Brazil loves France,” he said.