Lula sworn in as Brazil’s new president amid tight security

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn in as Brazil’s president for a historic third term on Sunday, with security measures tightened following an alleged bombing plot by a supporter of the incoming leader. retired Jair Bolsonaro.

The inauguration in Brasília, exactly two decades after the veteran politician first took office, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people for a carnival-style celebration with live music.

LulaAs everyone knows, he won the most intense election since democracy was restored in the South American country in the 1980s, in a remarkable political comeback in just three years. after being released from prison.

But the 77-year-old former metalworker faced a myriad of difficulties as he sought to honor campaign pledges including ending hunger and destruction. Amazon Rainforest.

Lula stands next to Marina Silva who will be Brazil's new environment minister

Lula stands next to Marina Silva, who will be Brazil’s new environment minister © Andre Borges/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Aside from financial pressures and a weakening outlook for the region’s largest economy, the icon of the Latin American left must deal with a deeply divided nation.

“The economic and social challenges are greater today than they were in 2003,” said Graziella Testa, a political scientist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.

“The first is how the government will respond to extremist groups that are openly anti-democratic and do not accept the outcome of the election.”

Lula won 50.9 percent of the vote to defeat the incumbent, a far-right populist once dubbed the “Trump of the Tropics,” in a second-round vote in October.

Contrary to custom, the outgoing president is not expected to be present to hand over the presidential belt to his successor. Bolsonaro instead, he went to Florida, where he had previously dined with ally Donald Trump at the former US president’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Bolsonaro’s political party and presidential office did not comment. Trump also refused to attend the inauguration of his successor Joe Biden, whom he said his victory was fraudulent.

A former army captain, Bolsonaro promotes conservative values, gun rights and a liberal economic agenda, while denying the severity of Covid-19 and protecting the environment.

Outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro

Outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has remained tight-lipped since his defeat, speaks publicly from Brasília this past Friday © Reuters

“The people will scream that democracy WIN! Let’s start a new year, a new page in our history,” Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, an ally of Lula, wrote on Twitter. “Brazilians will leave behind denialism, indifference, hatred and violence.”

Some of Bolsonaro’s more radical supporters claim – without evidence – that the vote was rigged and have been holding protests since the result, calling for a military coup to prevent the transfer of power.

“We want order and freedom. The armed forces must take power and give victory to our president [Bolsonaro] who is elected by the Brazilian people,” said Roberta Godinho at a rally outside a military base in São Paulo last month.

Tensions increased following the arrest of a 54-year-old man on Christmas Eve who had traveled to the capital to join protests, over an explosive device found in a fuel tanker near his airport. city. The suspect told police the aim was to “sow chaos” and incite an emergency.

In a rare public speech since his defeat, Bolsonaro denounced the move. “There is nothing here in Brasília that justifies this attempt to target an act of terrorism,” he said.

The incident follows turmoil in Brasília a few weeks ago, when rioters torched vehicles and clashed with law enforcement after attempting to storm a police building. Several arrests have taken place in the past week.

In that tense atmosphere, Lula’s inauguration will feature “the largest security apparatus in decades,” according to Renato Sérgio de Lima, president of the Brazilian Forum of Public Security.

“There is a new element of domestic terrorism and ideological extremism. These require the utmost attention because they pose risks that were previously not on the radar,” he said.

Lula’s 2003-2010 presidency coincided with a period of strong economic growth, poverty reduction and the rise of Brazil on the international stage.

It is, however, a legacy tainted by controversies over corruption and economic mismanagement under his handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff. Many Brazilians distrust the longtime union member due to the checkered record of his Workers’ party, or PT.

Its 13 years in power culminated with a major political bribery scandal, the worst recession in Brazilian history and the 2016 impeachment of Rousseff.

Lula herself spent 580 days in prison after being found guilty of bribery. But the convictions were overturned by the supreme court in 2021 – paving the way for his candidacy.

While the country benefited from a commodity boom during Lula’s first term, the current global economic picture is less favorable. Brazil’s gross domestic product growth is forecast to slow from 3% in 2022 to less than 1% in 2023.

Investors worry that Lula’s promises to increase welfare and infrastructure spending will further strain public finances and lead to tax increases, with further inflationary pressures forcing the central bank to keep interest rates in double digits for longer period.

“The tight financial space will be the main challenge for the president-elect. Wagner Parente, chief executive officer of BMJ Consulting, said it would be impossible to rely on an outside scenario to provide revenue for expansion spending.

Another concern in the business community, he added, is the propensity for government intervention in the economy.

In contrast to Bolsonaro’s isolationist approach to international affairs, the second president has promised to restore Brazil’s global standing. More senior dignitaries and foreign diplomats are expected to attend the ceremony than Bolsonaro’s inauguration in 2019.

Additional reporting by Carolina Ingizza

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