Brazil’s Silva takes oath, pledges to rebuild the country and holds outgoing Bolsonaro administrator accountable
Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been sworn in as president for the third time, taking office amid heightened political tensions after a close race with far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
In a speech to the Lower House of Congress, Lula promised to bring “hope and reconstruction” to his country.
“The great edifice of rights, sovereignty and development that this nation has built has been systematically torn down in recent years,” he said. “To rebuild this building, we will direct all our efforts.”
Although he did not name Bolsonaro by name, he promised that members of his predecessor’s administration would be held accountable.
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“We bear no spirit of revenge against those who have sought to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we will uphold the rule of law,” Lula said. “Those who err will answer for their errors, with broad rights of defense under due legal process.”
The leftist beat Bolsonaro in the Oct. 30 vote by less than 2 percentage points. For months, Bolsonaro had cast doubts on the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting and his loyal supporters were reluctant to accept the loss.
Many have gathered outside military barracks since, questioning the results and pleading with the armed forces to prevent Lula from taking office. His staunchest supporters have resorted to what some authorities and new members of Lula’s administration have called acts of “terrorism”, raising security concerns about the events of the day of the dead. ‘inauguration.
Lula said his priorities were to fight poverty and invest in education and health. He also said he would end illegal deforestation in the Amazon. He sought the support of political moderates to form a broad front and defeat Bolsonaro, then called on some of them to serve in his cabinet.
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Lula left office with an 83% personal approval rating, but political analysts doubt he will ever retain the popularity he once enjoyed. The credibility of Lula and his Workers’ Party has also been tarnished by a corruption investigation. Party officials were imprisoned, including Lula, whose convictions were later overturned on procedural grounds. The Supreme Court later ruled that the judge handling the case had colluded with prosecutors to secure a conviction.
Lula and his supporters claimed that he had been the victim of a railroad. Others were willing to look past possible wrongdoing as a way to topple Bolsonaro and bring the nation together.
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But Bolsonaro supporters refuse to accept someone they consider a criminal returning to the top job. And with tensions burning, a series of events raised fears that violence could erupt on inauguration day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.