Brazilian leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as president on Sunday, with his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro notably absent.
Bolsonaro, who now lacks presidential immunity, reportedly departed for the United States on Friday without conceding defeat since October’s election. According to the New York Times, Bolsonaro is reportedly planning to stay in Florida for at least a month and rent the home of a professional mixed martial artist in Orlando, a few miles from Disney World.
In a speech ahead of Brazil’s Congress Sunday, Lula cracked down on the outgoing president of Latin America’s largest country, accused Bolsonaro of making anti-democracy threats after the tightest election in a generation and vowed to hold members of his government accountable.
“We have no spirit of vengeance against those who tried to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological agendas, but we will guarantee the rule of law,” Lula said, without naming Bolsonaro, according to Portal. “Those who made a mistake will answer for their mistakes.”
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President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, waves to supporters next to his wife Rosangela Silva after being sworn in as the new President Sunday, January 1, 2023, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
“Under the winds of redemocratization, we kept saying ‘never again dictatorship,'” he added, according to the Times. “Today, after the terrible challenge we have overcome, we have to say: ‘Democracy forever’.”
Lula, who was once forced into a political hiatus while serving 580 days in prison on corruption charges before the country’s Supreme Court later overturned the convictions, vowed on Sunday that he would act on deforestation and climate change in his new third term as president and will invoke stricter gun restrictions. He also criticized Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reportedly claimed 680,000 Brazilian lives. “The responsibilities for this genocide must be established and not go unpunished,” Lula said.
At left, Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva smiles during his election certification ceremony in front of the Supreme Electoral Court in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, December 12, 2022. At right, then-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a news conference Oct. 29. 2022 in Rio de Janeiro. (AP)
At his lavish inauguration — which included a motorcade, a music festival and hundreds of thousands of supporters who packed the capital Brasília’s central esplanade — Lula announced he would accept a green-and-yellow presidential sash from “the Brazilian people.”
Contrary to tradition, a garbage man handed the sash to the new president because the outgoing Bolsonaro was not there.
“We look forward to continuing the strong partnership between the US and Brazil on trade, security, sustainability, innovation and inclusion,” tweeted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “To a bright future for our countries – and the world.”
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (right), Vice President Geraldo Alckmin (left) and his wife Maria Lucia Ribeiro (center) ride in an open car to the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday January 1, 2023. (AP Photo/ eraldo peres
King Charles also congratulated Lula and said in a letter he was “encouraged to hear that in your victory speech and at COP27 you emphasize the urgent need to address the climate crisis”.
Hours before reports of his departure, Bolsonaro addressed the country as president on his social media. At times on the verge of tears, Bolsonaro said he had not found a legal alternative or enough support to change the course of history and prevent his departure from office.
“How difficult it was to stay calm for two months and look for alternatives,” he said. “If you’re upset, put yourself in my shoes. I gave my life to this country.”
Bolsonaro also condemned a recent bomb threat in Brasilia and said it was not the time to attack people but to try and build resistance against the future government.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrives at the Planalto Palace after his swearing-in as the new President in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday January 1, 2023, with a group representing different sections of society. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
“We lost a battle, but we will not lose the war,” he said. “The world doesn’t end on January 1st.”
Crowds of supporters stood outside the presidential residence in the pouring rain, listening for a sign from their leader, and many were disappointed. Some shouted the words “traitor” and “coward”. According to The Associated Press, a woman cried.
President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, his wife Rosangela Silva, second from left, Vice-President-elect Geraldo Alckmin, right, and his wife Maria Lucia Ribeiro drive in an open-top car to Congress for their swearing-in ceremony, in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Since his election loss, some of Bolsonaro’s most staunch supporters have camped outside military buildings in Brasilia and elsewhere in the country, calling for the armed forces to intervene. Many believed the election results were falsified or unreliable and hoped that somehow Bolsonaro would stay in power.
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Others have blocked roads and highways or set buses and trucks on fire. Police are also investigating the attempted incursion into the federal police headquarters in Brasilia earlier this month and said most of the 32 people they are looking for have been in contact with Brasilia’s pro-Bolsonaro camp.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace.