Lula: Brazil has reclaimed ‘right to live in a democracy’

Brasilia, Dec 12 (EFE).- Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said here Monday during a ceremony certifying his victory in October’s presidential election that Brazilians have “reclaimed their right to live in a democracy.”

The 77-year-old leftist icon received a diploma accrediting him as president-elect during the ceremony, which marks the final step before his Jan. 1 inauguration for a third term.

Lula, who has been out of office for 12 years, presided over a commodities-driven economic boom and lifted millions out of poverty through social welfare programs during his first two terms as head of state from 2003 to 2010.

During the ceremony, the former governor of Sao Paulo state, Geraldo Alckmin, also received a diploma as vice president-elect.

“I want you to know that this diploma is not a diploma for President Lula. It’s a diploma for a people who reclaimed their right to live in a democracy in this country,” the president-elect told an audience of 300 guests at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) building in Brasilia.

An emotional Lula cried during the ceremony, just as he had after being elected president for the first time in 2002.

“I apologize for my emotion” but “what I went through in these last few years is proof of God’s existence and the greatness of the people … I know how much this wait has cost the people,” the former lathe operator and union leader who grew up in Brazil’s impoverished northeastern region said in a faltering voice.

He was referring to corruption convictions that prevented him from running for president in 2018 but were later annulled in 2021 by the Supreme Court in a ruling that restored his political rights.

The leftist leader has consistently maintained his innocence and says the charges were politically motivated.

Lula said democracy “won out” even though Brazilian society was “poisoned (by) lies produced in the underworld of social media” that disseminated “hate” and generated “political violence.”

Along those lines, the leader of the left-wing Workers Party (PT) said the “machinery of attacks on democracy has no country or borders” and called for the deployment of advanced technologies and “harsher and more efficient laws” to crack down on fake news.

“We’ll never renounce freedom of expression, but we’ll defend to the end the right to information without lies or manipulations,” the president-elect said.

Tight security surrounded the event amid concerns about potential disruptions by supporters of outgoing head of state Jair Bolsonaro, whom Lula defeated by a margin of 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent in an Oct. 30 runoff.

Bolsonaro supporters have been demonstrating outside army barracks in several cities since his defeat to demand the military intervene and prevent Lula from taking office.

Six weeks after the election, Bolsonaro, who had repeatedly cast doubt on the reliability of the voting machines in the lead-up to the vote, still has not publicly acknowledged his defeat.

His Liberal Party filed a request on Nov. 22 demanding that election officials invalidate the results from older models of electronic voting machines used in the presidential runoff.

The request cast doubt on around 60 percent of the machines used in the Oct. 30 runoff, a process that all participating national and international observers certified as transparent.

TSE President Alexandre de Moraes initially responded to the PL’s request by saying it could only be evaluated if a second request were issued in 24 hours containing their concerns about the Oct. 2 first round, in which Bolsonaro’s party won more seats in both the Senate and lower house that any other single political grouping.

Then, the following day, De Moraes rejected the request and also fined the party 22.9 million reais ($4.3 million) for acting in “bad faith.”

“The complete bad faith of the … bizarre and illicit request … was proven, both by the refusal to add to the initial petition and the total absence of any evidence of irregularities and the existence of a totally fraudulent narrative of the facts,” the magistrate, who is also a Supreme Court judge, wrote in his decision. EFE

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