BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva boasted on Wednesday of having won trade disputes against the United States and likened his country to a mouse that scared an elephant.
"We had a fight with the United States in the WTO on cotton and we won. We had a fight with them on sugar and we won," Lula said, referring to two cases in which the World Trade Organization had ruled in favor of Brazil and against U.S. farm aid.
"In the olden days, they said don't fight with the United States, they are very big," Lula said during a public works inauguration in the central Minas Gerais state.
"Look, an elephant has a certain size. The trunk is as big as 10 rats but put a mouse near the elephant and see how the beast trembles and wets itself," he added.
The former trade union leader will step down after his second term ends on January 1.
In recent weeks he has been actively campaigning for his former chief of staff and front-runner in the October presidential election, Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil has become an active player in global trade negotiations since Lula took office in 2003.
His mediation efforts over Iran's nuclear program earlier this year cooled Brazil's ties to Washington substantially.
Lula, who is known to occasionally make provocative remarks, said he respected the United States and Europe, but that Brazil today walked with its head high and wanted to compete on an equal footing.
At the height of the 2008-2009 global financial meltdown, Lula raised eyebrows by blaming the crisis on white people with blue eyes.
(Reporting by Raymond Colitt; editing by Mohammad Zargham)