Lula calls for peace, unity in the face of ‘hatred’

São Paulo, Dec 24 (EFE).- In his first Christmas message since returning to power, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday called for peace and unity in the face of the “hatred” of the coup plotters who divided the country and tried to overthrow him almost a year ago.

“From that sad January 8, democracy emerged victorious and strengthened. We were able to restore the stained glass windows in record time, but we need to restore peace and unity between friends and family,” said the leftist leader during his speech, broadcast by television, radio and social networks.

The president was alluding to the assault on Brasilia, when thousands of supporters of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro invaded and destroyed the headquarters of the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, with the aim of encouraging a military intervention to overthrow him a week after taking office.

He said the incident was promoted by the “hatred of some” against the rule of law, left “deep scars,” “divided the country,” “separated families” and “put democracy at risk.”

“Fortunately, the attempted coup had the opposite effect: it united all institutions, mobilized political parties above ideologies and provoked a prompt reaction from society,” said the head of state.

To date, the Supreme Court has convicted around 20 of the nearly 2,000 people accused of involvement in the assault, of which 66 are still in prison – either sentenced or in pretrial detention, while the rest are going through the judicial process on the outside.

Lula encouraged Brazilians to “combat fake news, misinformation and hate speech.”

In another veiled criticism of the previous administration, the leader of the Workers’ Party assured that, since he assumed power, “Brazil once again has a real government.”

In this framework, he reviewed the initiatives launched by his executive in 2023, among them the recovery of several social programs that he already promoted during his first two terms, between 2003 and 2010.

He also highlighted the approval of a profound tax reform, and was optimistic about the Brazilian economy for next year.

“Twenty twenty-three was time to plant and rebuild. We plowed the land, we sewed the seeds, we watered every day, we took great care of Brazil and its people. We created all the conditions to have a generous harvest in twenty twenty-four,” he noted.

The financial market expects Brazil to close 2023 with growth very close to 3 percent, in line with the forecasts of the government and the Central Bank, and that it will at least exceed the estimates at the beginning of the year, which were barely 0.6 percent.

Furthermore, inflation has moderated and currently stands at 4.68 percent year-on-year, that is, within the target ceiling for this year (4.75 percent), while unemployment is slightly below 8 percent.

However, the public deficit has skyrocketed to around 8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, while the debt is close to 75 percent of GDP, according to official data.

In addition, a slowdown is expected for 2024, when the country should grow by 1.5 percent, according to market forecasts.

Faced with this, Lula guaranteed that next year they will “work hard to exceed, once again, all expectations.” EFE


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