Lula Takes Office in Brazil, Promising 'Democracy Forever'

With Bolsonaro out, new president says he'll rebuild the nation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2023 3:10 PM CST
Brazil Welcomes New President, Promise of 'Democracy Forever'
President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left; his wife, Rosangela Silva, second from left; Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin, right; and his wife, Maria Lucia Ribeiro; ride on an open car to Congress to be sworn in Sunday in Brasilia.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Declaring that "democracy was the great winner" of Brazil's violent presidential election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office on Sunday and promised to restore the nation from the "terrible ruins" left by his predecessor's rule. "Together with the Brazilian people, I assume the responsibility for rebuilding the country and making it a nation of all and for all," Lulu said in his half-hour address, Deutsche Welle reports. He did not utter the name of Jair Bolsonaro, who was absent from the inauguration after leaving Brazil for the US on Friday, but he denounced his government's actions in detail. Delegations from 50 countries attended Lula's swearing-in before lawmakers.

Hundreds of thousands of people, wearing the red of the Workers' Party, arrived in Brasilia to celebrate Lula's third term as president and the end of Bolsonaro's presidency, calling the event "Lulapalooza," per the Washington Post. "We feel dizzyingly unfathomable relief," said Arimatea Lafayette, a journalist. "We've been through four years of terror and now we feel free." Lucas Rodrigues, who's involved in the landless workers' movement, was emotional as he got off a bus from the southern state of Santa Catarina, per the Guardian. "The whole of Brazil is here—that's what Lula's capable of," he said.

Lula's inauguration also restores the left to power in Brazil, the largest country in Latin America. He declared the end to "an authoritarian project of power," adding, "Today, after the terrible challenges we have faced, we say: democracy forever." John D French, a US biographer of Lula, said, "I think what he'd like would be a generalized reconciliation ... and a standing down of the levels of conflict." But the violence is fresh, and the nation remains deeply polarized. French warned that "the notion that everything is going to be roses and peaches and cream" is misguided. "I think this is going to be a very conflictual period," he said. (More Brazil stories.)

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