Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff harshly criticized the economic policies of rich nations at the United Nations on Tuesday, saying they were failing to end the global crisis and harming emerging markets such as hers.
The left-leaning Rousseff said budget cuts and expansionary monetary policies in the United States and Europe were having severe negative side effects elsewhere in the world, causing Brazil's currency to appreciate and damaging its exports.
She was the first head of state to address this year's 193-nation U.N. General Assembly.
Rousseff's comments came as she faces growing political pressure at home over an economy that has barely grown over the past year. She has also endured intense criticism from Washington and elsewhere over her recent decision to raise tariffs on about 100 goods, a move that fanned fears of rising protectionism among emerging markets.
The leader of Latin America's biggest economy addressed those concerns head-on, saying Brazil will continue to protect its industries within legal means as long as rich countries continue to flood the world with cheap money.
"We cannot accept that legitimate trade defense initiatives by developing countries be unfairly classified as protectionism," Rousseff said.
Brazil and the United States publicly sparred last week over the tariffs, with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging Rousseff's government to reconsider. Brazil retorted that U.S. monetary policy had unleashed a flood of imported goods at artificially low prices.
Rousseff and other Brazilian officials have been lashing out at rich nations for years now - for example, popularizing the term "currency war" to describe how rich countries have weakened their currencies by printing money.
While the criticism seems to have failed to lead Europe and the United States to reconsider their policies, it has helped provide some political cover for other countries in Latin America and elsewhere to implement trade barriers and erect capital controls to protect their currencies. ? Rousseff presented Brazil as a case study for how to solve the crisis without resorting to severe budget cuts, pointing to 40 million people lifted out of poverty during the past decade or so. She said the choice between austerity and economic growth "is a false dilemma."
"We know from our own experience that the sovereign debt of states as well as the bank and financial debt will not be dealt with in the framework of a recession. On the contrary, recession only makes these problems more acute," she said.
Rousseff also weighed in on the civil war in Syria, saying that Brazil, which has aspirations to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, condemned the violence. However, she declared that "there is no military solution" to the problems there.
Brazil has occasionally cast itself as a mediator in the Middle East, attempting to help find a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear crisis in 2010, for example. Although Brazil has historically been reluctant to support armed intervention in other countries, Rousseff's government has begun using stronger language on Syria in recent weeks as civilian deaths mount.
(Reporting by Brian Winter; Editing by Will Dunham)