Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s new president on Sunday, marking the beginning of his third term in office.
“I promise to maintain, defend and fulfill the constitution, observe the laws, promote the general good of the Brazilian people, support the unity, integrity and independence of Brazil,” Lula da Silva said.
Parliamentarians applauded Lula before breaking into a chant of “ole, ole ola, Lula, Lula.”
The inauguration came as threats of violence loomed from supporters of Silva’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
The 76-year-old politician, returning to the presidency after a 12-year hiatus, arrived with his wife Rosângela da Silva at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasília before heading to congress where a formal congressional session will take place.
After that, the newly inaugurated president and the first lady will travel in an open car parade to attend a military honors ceremony outside the presidential palace. He will then receive a presidential sash and deliver his first public address of his term as Brazil’s new leader.
The Senate president opened the ceremony by paying respects to Pelé and Pope Benedict with a minute of silence.
During the ceremony, Lula broke with traditional protocol to tell a short story about the pen he used to sign congressional documents.
“In 1989 was in a rally in Piaui, then we walked until the San Benedict church, and a citizen gave me this pen and asked me to use this to sign in if I win the election in ’89. I didn’t win the election in ‘89, didn’t win in ‘94, didn’t win ‘98. In 2002 I won but when I arrived here I had forgotten the pen and signed with a senator pen. In 2006, I signed with the senate pen, and now I found the pen, and I do in honor of the people of Piaui state,” he said.
Looming over the ceremony, the notable absence of Bolsonaro, who left Brazil for Florida on Friday and did not specify his return date.
His trip to the US breaks with Brazilian convention of outgoing leaders being present at their successors’ inauguration ceremony. It came as Brazil’s government issued an ordinance on Friday authorizing five civil servants to accompany “future ex-president” Bolsonaro to Miami, Florida, between January 1 and 30, 2023.
Bolsonaro’s former vice president Hamilton Mourao addressed the nation in a speech on national television this Saturday on the last day of his government and criticized leaders whose silence created “an atmosphere of chaos.”
“Leaders that should reassure and unite the nation around a project for the country allowed that silence to create an atmosphere of chaos and social division,” said Mourao, who added that the armed forces had to pay the bill. Since the election results Bolsonaro had addressed the public only three times, and in none of those addresses said he accepted the election results, fomenting his radical base into believing the result could be reversed.
Lula da Silva won a tight run-off race on October 30, in a stunning comeback that marked the return of the left in power in Brazil following four years of Bolsonaro’s far-right administration.
He accomplished a remarkable return to power, after a series of corruption allegations that led to his imprisonment for 580 days. The Supreme Court later ruled a mistrial, clearing his path to run for reelection.
He now begins his third term, after previously governing Brazil for two consecutive terms between 2003 and 2010.
Threats of violence
Violence has taken grip of the country with Bolsonaro yet to explicitly concede his election loss, despite his administration saying it is cooperating with the transition of power.
Security during Lula da Silva’s inauguration is intense, as approximately 8,000 security agents from several police forces are mobilized this Sunday, according to the Federal District’s security department.
Earlier on Sunday, a man was arrested in Brasilia by the military police after he was caught trying to get into the inauguration party carrying a knife and fireworks, officials said in a statement. The suspect traveled from Rio de Janeiro.
A Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Wednesday ordered a four-day ban on carrying firearms in the capital that will run through the end of Sunday, as a precautionary measure.
It will not apply to active members of the armed forces, policemen and private security guards, Judge Alexandre de Moraes wrote.
Lula da Silva’s team had requested a ban on firearms at the inauguration days after police arrested a man on suspicion of planting and possessing explosive devices at Brasilia International Airport.
The suspect, identified as 54-year-old gas station manager George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, is a supporter of Bolsonaro and told the police in a statement, seen by CNN, that he intended to “create chaos” so as to prevent Lula da Silva from taking office again.
Moraes’ ban came into force as thousands of Bolsonaro’s supporters gathered at military barracks across the country in protest of the election result, asking the army to step in as they claim, with no evidence, that the election was stolen.
Bolsonaro condemned Sousa’s bombing attempt on Friday, saying “there is no justification” for a “terrorist act.”
“Brazil will not end on January 1, you can be sure about that,” the outgoing president said in reference to Lula da Silva’s inauguration date.
“Today we have a mass of people who know more about politics,” he added. “They understand they are at risk. Good will win. We have leaders all over Brazil. New politicians or reelected politicians, they will make a difference.”