Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as president on Sunday, and in his first address expressed optimism about plans to rebuild while pledging that members of outgoing Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will be held to account.
Lula is assuming office for the third time after thwarting far-right incumbent Bolsonaro’s reelection bid. His return to power marks the culmination of a political comeback that is thrilling supporters and enraging opponents in a fiercely polarized nation.
“Our message to Brazil is one of hope and reconstruction,” Lula said in a speech in Congress’ Lower House after signing the document that formally instates him as president. “The great edifice of rights, sovereignty and development that this nation built has been systematically demolished in recent years. To re-erect this edifice, we are going to direct all our efforts.”
Sunday afternoon in Brasilia’s main esplanade, the party was on. Tens of thousands of supporters decked out in the red of Lula’s Workers’ Party cheered after his swearing in.
They celebrated when the president said he would send a report about the prior administration to all lawmakers and judicial authorities, revoke Bolsonaro’s “criminal decrees” that loosened gun control, and hold the prior administration responsible for its denialism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.