Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been sworn in as Brazil’s new president. the third time he has held the position. The experienced left-wing politician, known as Lula, also led the country from 2003 to 2010 and defeated Jair Bolsonaro in the October election.
Lula promised to reconstruct a country in “awful ruins” in his first speech.
He criticised his predecessor’s policies, who fled to the United States on Friday to escape the handover ceremony.
Since early in the morning, a sea of Lula fans has assembled in front of Congress, dressed in the red of his Workers’ Party. They travelled to see their leader’s inauguration, but also to celebrate.
As part of the “Lulapalooza” music festival, more than 60 artists, including Samba legend Martinho da Vila, were set to perform on two huge stages decorated with the national flag.
One banner read, “Love has triumphed over hate,” and was carried by a man costumed as Lula, complete with a presidential sash.
“Brazil needed this change, this transformation,” said another supporter of the new president as she waited in line for Sunday’s festivities.
Juliana Barreto, a native of Lula’s home state of Pernambuco, told the BBC that her country had been a “disaster” previously.
Lula and incoming Vice-President Geraldo Alckmin marched through the city in an open-top convertible before travelling to the Congress building, where the ceremonial inauguration event began with the swearing-in.
The men have spent the last few days putting together their cabinet and choosing supporters to major state-owned enterprises.
Shortly after being sworn in, Lula wanted to instil a sense of hope in the people of Brazil and promised to “rebuild the nation and make a Brazil of all, for all”.
He pulled out his hanky on multiple occasions. His most emotional moment came after the swearing-in ceremony when he began sobbing while speaking about individuals who beg at traffic signals, desperate for food. Even Lula probably did not expect this day to occur – a comeback to the top job after two decades, after a stint in prison for corruption. The convictions were later overturned in 2021.
His speech to Congress was largely about togetherness and reconstruction. The two words are critical in such a deeply divided country, hit severely by the pandemic and politically polarised.
Lula understands that his final battle will be to persuade those who believe he is a corrupt politician who belongs in prison that he now belongs in the presidential palace and can be their leader as well.
He promised to reverse the legacy of his predecessor’s government, which he said included cutting money for education, health, and Amazon rainforest conservation.