Lula criticizes Bolsonaro, claims “Brazil is back” 100 days into term

Brasilia, Apr 10 (EFE).- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday commemorated his first 100 days as president by leveling harsh criticism at the legacy of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, and promising to continue “rebuilding” the country with the focus on the poorest Brazilians.

“It was 100 days of a lot of work, but we still have 1,360 days to continue rebuilding this country,” said Lula at a ministerial meeting devoid of any big announcements.

The president provided an overview of the first three-plus months of his administration, about which he said he felt “very proud,” and declared his “optimism” regarding the country’s economic future despite what he said was the “pessimism” of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“Brazil once again has a government that looks at the Brazilian people and wakes up early to take care of those who need it most, who in recent years were the victims of the absence of the government in this country,” he said.

“Brazil is back” was the slogan around which he built a long speech that he interrupted on occasion to assign duties to his cabinet ministers on specific issues, including examining tougher penalties for using “slave labor,” facilitating access to specialists in the public health system and expanding the country’s highway network.

During his remarks, he directed harsh criticism at the ultrarightist Bolsonaro, whom he accused of trying to “perpetuate fascism” in Brazil by spending “millions” from the state’s resources on his failed reelection bid last October.

“A developed country is not built on the ruins of hunger, attacks on democracy, lack of respect for human rights and inequality in income, race and gender,” the leftist president said.

Lula mentioned “the attempted coup d’etat” suffered by Brazil on Jan. 8, 2023, when thousands of Bolsonaro supporters, called “reactionaries and fascists” by the president, invaded and destroyed portions of the presidential mansion, Congress and the Supreme Court building to try and force him from power and reinstate the ultrarightist ex-president.

And he warned: “We have many people who don’t like the democracy that’s been implanted here.”

The leader of the Workers Party (PT) also set his sights on the Central Bank, which he has been pressuring for weeks to lower the official interest rate of 13.75 percent per year, a level that in his judgment is hampering the country’s growth.

“I continue to believe that they’re playing with this country, with the poor people and with the businessman who wants to invest,” he declared.

Lula, accompanied by his vice president, compared the figures on the increase in funding allocated to transportation, health and housing infrastructure during the past 100 days with the previous administration.

He said that with him as president “Brazil has returned to reconciling growth with social inclusion” and emphasized the social programs he pushed during his first two terms in office (from 2003-2010) and which he is once again doing so in his third.

In that regard, he asked his ministers to focus their efforts on “the humblest people” because “the middle class doesn’t need a lot” and “the rich don’t need (anything)” in terms of help from the state.

“You’re here for the people,” he insisted, although minutes later he said that his administration is thinking “about the entire population.”

On the economic front, Lula once again defended state investment as the “instigator” of growth in Brazil, announcing that in May he will launch a plan to increase productivity in the countryside and calling on public banks to offer lower interest rates.

“Good money isn’t money that’s kept in a safe, it’s money in projects, obviously responsible (ones), since we can’t have unrestrained spending,” he said.

Lula also promised to expand efforts against machismo violence, to confront the “massacre of young blacks on the periphery” of the cities and “to continue protecting the territories of the indigenous peoples” and the environment.

In this regard, he said that he will accelerate the energy transition with the holding of new bidding on wind and solar energy projects, as well as transmission lines, declaring that “We will not lose the chance to be a global power in green hydrogen.”

In addition, he said that he will comply with all carbon Brazil’s emissions commitments as well as his promise to eliminate deforestation before the end of this decade, promises that, he admitted, “are not easy” to make or to fulfill.

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