Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as President on Sunday, and in his first address expressed optimism about plans to rebuild the country.
He also pledged that members of outgoing Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will be held accountable.
The veteran left-wing politician, known widely as Lula, who also led the country between 2003 and 2010, vowed to rebuild a country in “terrible ruins.” He decried the policies of his predecessor, who went to the US on Friday to avoid the handover ceremony.
“Our message to Brazil is one of hope and reconstruction,” Lula said in a speech in Congress’ Lower House after signing the document that formally instates him as president.
“The great edifice of rights, sovereignty and development that this nation built has been systematically demolished in recent years. To re-erect this edifice, we are going to direct all our efforts.”
Lula and incoming Vice-President Geraldo Alckmin paraded through the city on an open-top convertible before proceeding to the Congress building. Tens of thousands of supporters in the capital Brasilia decked out in the red of Lula’s Workers’ Party cheered after his swearing-in.
Lula vows to ensure the rule of law in Brazil
Supporters celebrated when the President said he would send a report about the prior administration to all lawmakers and judicial authorities, revoke Bolsonaro’s “criminal decrees” that loosened gun control, and hold the prior administration responsible for its denialism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reports.
“We do not carry any spirit of revenge against those who sought to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we are going to ensure the rule of law,” Lula said, without mentioning Bolsonaro by name.
“Those who erred will answer for their errors, with broad rights to their defense within the due legal process,” he said.
There were several instances when he got out his hanky, the BBC reports. His most emotional moment came when speaking to the Brazilian people after the swearing-in ceremony. He started sobbing when talking about those who beg at traffic lights and are desperate for food.
On Saturday, former Greek PM and leader of main opposition Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, met Lula in Brasilia.
The two men discussed the governmental experience of the left and progressive forces in Greece and Brazil.
They agreed that today’s struggle for democracy and tackling inequalities against the right and far-right is as important as the struggle of the previous decades in defending society from austerity policies and neoliberal globalization.
Tsipras tweeted: ”Lula is back. This time he will not only fight to fight inequalities but also to defend the Republic and unite his country. Because Bolsonaro was defeated but Bolsonarism is still here, as he characteristically told me in our meeting.”
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