On Sunday the 77-year-old leftist was sworn into office for his third term as Brazil’s president.
The ceremony took place before Congress in the country’s capital of Brasilia. In October Lula had defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro in a tight race, and the latter has since snubbed his duties of peacefully transitioning power to his successor.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office on Sunday for his third term as Brazil’s president. Lula, a former metalworker, opened his speech during the ceremony by criticizing the work of Bolsonaro, who chose to skip the ceremony and instead flee to Florida: breaking Brazil’s political tradition of handing the yellow-and-green presidential sash to one’s successor which was first established in 1985 following the end of the country’s military dictatorship.
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) speaking openly about the work of his predecessor, Lula pledged to use his government to undo years of economic decline, funding cuts in health, education and science, and the “stupidity” of using the nation’s resources for private gain.
“Upon these terrible ruins, I pledge to rebuild the country together with the Brazilian people,” he said, adding that he would improve life for Brazil’s lower class, fight for social equality, and promised to reverse and eventually end the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest which was accelerated by Bolsonaro.
“The mandate we received, in the face of opponents inspired by fascism, will be defended through our democratic constitution. We will respond to hate with love, to lies with the truth, to terrorism and violence with the law.”
Lula, who began serving a 12-year sentence in 2018 before the country’s Supreme Court annulled the case releasing him from jail a year later, arrived at the ceremony in a black convertible Rolls-Royce and stepped out in a blue suit and tie. He was joined by his wife First Lady Rosangela “Janja” da Silva and Vice President Geraldo Alckmin.
Bolsonaro’s supporters have threatened violence and have called for a military overthrow in order to keep him in office. About 8,000 police were deployed during the ceremony following an arrest last week of one individual who planned to leave a tanker truck filled with explosives near the capital’s airport. Another man was arrested on Sunday after he tried to enter the ceremony with a knife and fireworks.
Despite threats of violence from his predecessor’s protestors, Lula was met by a crowd of 30,000 supporters while an additional tens of thousands of supporters gathered on the capital’s esplanade to celebrate.