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Lula launches stinging attack on Bolsonaro in inaugural address

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Luis Inacio Lula da Silva used Sunday’s inaugural address as Brazilian president to launch a stinging attack on the government of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, to “rebuild” Latin America’s largest country. talked about the need to

Despite expectations for a conciliatory first speech, Lula criticizes right-wing Bolsonaro for the coronavirus pandemic and economic and social policies he said have caused “the destruction of the nation” criticized the response to

“The responsibility for this [Covid] Genocide must be investigated and not punished. It is now up to us to show solidarity with the families of the approximately 700,000 victims,” ​​he said.

The remarks before Congress, repeatedly punctuated by applause and chants of Lula’s name, came as the new president took office for a historic third term.

Security guards hold anti-drone guns before the inauguration on Sunday © AFP via Getty Images

The ceremony came just 20 years after the 77-year-old former trade union activist was sworn in as the country’s first South American leader.

Left-wing leaders face an uphill battle to restore calm to the country’s frenzied political scene after October’s divisive elections, in which Lula defeated populist Bolsonaro by less than 2 percent.

In a tense atmosphere and heavy security measures, police detained a man with a knife and fireworks on Sunday morning. He attempted to enter Brasilia’s Central Promenade, which was welcoming crowds for his inauguration.

It follows the arrest of another man on Christmas Eve in connection with an explosive device found on a fuel tanker near the capital’s airport. , is said to have told police that it would create a state of emergency.

Since the election results, hundreds of Bolsonaro’s most devout supporters — who claim without evidence that the votes were rigged — have converged outside military bases across Brazil to force the military to annul Lula’s victory. asked to be

But they were left reeling Friday when the former Army captain quietly left the country by flying to Florida to avoid Lula’s inauguration.

Thousands of Lula supporters gathered in Brasilia for the inauguration, dressed in the red of Lula’s Workers’ Party © REUTERS

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of supporters of the new president descended on Brasilia, and a large crowd in red of Lula’s Workers’ Party gathered on the city’s yawning central promenade on Sunday.

Dubbed “Lulapalooza” by fans, the event mixed political pomp and glitz with a festival-style celebration accompanied by live music.

Born in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, cheers erupted when Lula showed up in an open-top 1950s Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith with his wife, Vice President Gerardo, in the mid-afternoon before moving to the industrial heartland of São Paulo. It boiled over. Alcumin and companion.

In his speech to parliament, Lula said, “Our message for Brazil is hope and rebuilding.”

Dressed in a formal blue suit and tie, the new president focused on the need to tackle the country’s deep poverty, saying, “No country has risen in the misery of its people, nor can it.” said.

“Our first action is to lift 33 million people out of hunger and 100 million people in poverty. [Bolsonaro’s] National destruction plan that ends today. ”

Lula also pledged to rescind President Bolsonaro’s order to ease firearms restrictions and praised the commitment of Brazilians to democracy.

“Democracy is the greatest winner of this election, overcoming an unprecedented mobilization of public and private resources. It’s a campaign.”

Dorjivan Santos, a 52-year-old logistics manager from the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, said that Brasília was specially chosen for the event, as it represents “the triumph of good over evil.” said to have visited

“Lula unites the people, unites the peoples and regions of Brazil. I have never seen a festival with so many people,” he said, adding that the new president’s biggest challenge was to “repeate right-wing radicalism.” to end it,” he added.

During its first two terms, from 2003 to 2010, Lula oversaw strong economic growth, rising living standards and the rise of Brazil on the international stage.

But his legacy has been tainted by corruption controversies and mismanagement of the economy under his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff.

Lula spent 580 days in prison before being released in November 2019 after being convicted of corruption charges. Her conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

Many Brazilians remain wary of the veteran politician and his Workers Party, which was in power for 13 years until the impeachment of Rousseff in 2016.

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