Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been inaugurated in as President of Brazil, while his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, has fled to the United States after refusing to acknowledge defeat.
Lula said democracy was the genuine winner of the October presidential race when he ousted Bolsonaro in a speech to Congress on Sunday, after officially reclaiming the reigns of Latin America’s largest country.
‘Democracy was the great victor in this election, triumphing despite… the most violent threats to voting freedom and the most despicable campaign of falsehoods and hatred organized to manipulate and shame the voters,’ Lula told lawmakers.
Lula, who was imprisoned during Bolsonaro’s inauguration in 2019 on graft convictions that were later overturned, threatened his predecessor.
Now that he no longer has presidential immunity, Bolsonaro faces escalating legal consequences for his anti-democratic statements and handling of the outbreak.
The former president’s vacation to Orlando, Florida, shields him from imminent legal consequences 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 government plans contrasted with Bolsonaro’s four years in office, which were marked by reversals on environmental protections in the Amazon rainforest, laxer gun laws, and weaker protections for indigenous peoples and minorities.
Lula has stated his desire to transform Brazil, one of the world’s leading food producers, into a green superpower.
He reaffirmed his commitment to stopping deforestation in the Amazon, which reached a 15-year high under Bolsonaro, as well as repealing Bolsonaro’s laxer gun rules, which drove an increase in gun ownership.
‘Brazil does not want more weapons, it wants peace and security for its people,’ he said.