Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been sworn in as Brazil’s president while his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro flee to the US after refusing to concede defeat
In a speech to Congress on Sunday after officially taking the reins of Latin America’s biggest country, Lula said democracy was the true winner of the October presidential vote when he ousted Bolsonaro.
‘Democracy was the great victor in this election, overcoming … the most violent threats to freedom to vote, and the most abject campaign of lies and hate plotted to manipulate and embarrass the electorate,’ Lula told lawmakers.
Lula, who was behind bars during Bolsonaro’s 2019 inauguration on graft convictions that were later overturned, issued a threat to his predecessor.
Bolsonaro faces mounting legal risks for his anti-democratic rhetoric and his handling of the pandemic now that he no longer has presidential immunity.
The former president’s trip to Orlando, Florida, insulates him from any immediate legal jeopardy in Brazil.
‘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,’ Lula said, without mentioning his predecessor by name. ‘Those who erred will answer for their errors.’
He also accused Bolsonaro’s administration of committing ‘genocide’ by failing to respond properly to the COVID-19 virus that killed more than 680,000 Brazilians.
‘The responsibilities for this genocide must be investigated and must not go unpunished,’ he said.
Lula’s plans for government provided a contrast to Bolsonaro’s four years in office, which were characterized by backsliding on environmental protections in the Amazon rainforest, looser gun laws, and weaker protections for indigenous peoples and minorities.
Lula said he wants to turn Brazil, one of the world’s top food producers, into a green superpower.
He reinforced his commitment to ending deforestation in the Amazon, which surged to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro, and to revoking Bolsonaro’s looser gun policies, which prompted a sharp rise in gun ownership.
‘Brazil does not want more weapons, it wants peace and security for its people,’ he said.