February 2, 2023
The motorcade of Brazil's President elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is seen near the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, January 1, 2023. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

New Government in Brazil

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Newly elected President Lula sworn in as former president Jair Bolsonaro skips inauguration. The newly inaugurated president will govern a divided country beset with economic problems.

Popular leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as president of Brazil on Sunday under tightened security in the capital Brasilia following threats of violence by supporters of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

In a speech to Congress, Lula said he was receiving a ruined country where hunger had returned under Bolsonaro, whose government he said had depleted resources for education, health and the conservation of forests, and undermined human rights.

He accused Bolsonaro’s “negationist” administration of committing “genocide” by failing to respond properly to the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 680,000 Brazilians.

Lula said he won October’s election against opponents who had attacked the country’s internationally-praised voting system.

“If we are here, it is thanks to the political awareness of Brazilian society and the democratic front that we formed,” he said. “Democracy was the great victor, overcoming the greatest mobilisation of public and private resources ever seen and the most violent threat to freedom to vote.”

In his previous years as Workers Party (PT) president from 2003-2010, the former union leader lifted millions of Brazilians from poverty during a commodity boom that buoyed the economy.

Now, he faces the daunting challenge of improving Brazil’s stagnant economy while also uniting a country that has become painfully polarised under Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida on Friday, before flying to Florida, Bolsonaro delivered a teary address in which he condemned the Christmas Eve bomb plot as a “terrorist act” but praised his supporters who camped outside army barracks across the country calling for a coup. By skipping the inauguration, he avoided having to hand over the presidential sash to his rival, whose victory he has yet to recognise, while also removing himself from any immediate legal risks related to his time in office.

His supporters have protested for two months that the election was stolen and called for a military coup to stop Lula returning to office in a climate of vandalism and violence.

Police detained a man on Sunday who was carrying fireworks and a knife and tried to enter the esplanade for the inauguration, Brasilia police said.

On Christmas Eve, a Bolsonaro supporter was arrested for making a bomb that was discovered on a truck laden with aviation fuel at the entrance to Brasilia airport, and confessed he was seeking to sow chaos to provoke a military intervention.

Lula said those responsible for anti-democratic acts would be held accountable, though he did not mention Bolsonaro.

“We do not carry any spirit of revenge against those who tried to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we will guarantee the rule of law,” he said.

In a thinly veiled dig, acting President Hamilton Mourao, who was Bolsonaro’s vice president, criticized his former boss for failing to lead the country and allowing anti-democratic sentiment to thrive after his October defeat at the polls.

“Leaders who were supposed to reassure and unite the nation … allowed silence or inopportune and deleterious protagonism to create an atmosphere of chaos and social disintegration,” Mourao said in a speech late on Saturday.

Source Twitter/Reuters/RT

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