Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as President of Brazil on Sunday, assuming office for the third time, after defeating far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
In a speech to Congress after being sworn in, Lula said democracy was the true winner of October’s election—the most fraught in South America’s largest nation in a generation.
Also in his inauguration speeches, Lula committed to fighting against economic inequality and racial and gender injustice. He also criticized the Bolsonaro Administration’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it amounted to “genocide” and should “not stay unpunished.”
Bolsonaro did not attend 77-year-old Lula’s inauguration. He had left Brazil Friday for Florida after refusing to concede defeat. After losing to Lula he raised claims of electoral weaknesses that sparked a violent movement of Brazilian election deniers.
Lula has said that his priorities are fighting poverty and investing in education and health. His plans for government are set to be in stark contrast to Bolsonaro’s Administration, which included regressing on environmental protections in the Amazon rainforest, loosening gun laws and weakening protections for indigenous peoples and minorities.
In his first decisions as President, Lula restored the authority of the government’s environmental protection agency to combat deforestation, and he revoked a measure that encouraged illegal mining on protected indigenous lands.
Lula said he wants to turn Brazil, one of the world’s top food producers, into a green superpower.
Lula’s return to the Presidency restores the left to power in the six largest economies in the region, following recent victories over the political right in Colombia and Chile.