Brasilia, Jan 1 (EFE).- Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s president in Parliament in Brasilia on Sunday, the first person ever elected to three presidential terms and the first person to have defeated an incumbent president.
“I promise to maintain, defend and fulfill the Constitution, observe the laws, promote the general welfare of the Brazilian people, support the union, the integrity and the independence of Brazil,” the 77-year-old leftist leader declared in taking the oath of office.
Four years ago, Lula was released after serving 580 days in prison after being convicted of corruption in trials that were annulled in June 2021 by the Brazilian Supreme Court, thus allowing him to run for president in 2022.
At the start of the parliamentary session, a minute of silence was observed in honor of Brazilian soccer icon Edson Arantes do Nascimento (“Pele”) and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, both of whom died in recent days.
In his inaugural address after being sworn in, Lula hailed the “victory of democracy” that allowed him to prevail in the October run-off vote despite the “threats” from the ultraright, which still has not accepted his win.
“If we’re here, it’s thanks to the political conscience of Brazilian society,” said Lula, adding that “Democracy was the great victor, “overcoming” as it did the “most violent threats to the freedom to vote,” an allusion to the campaign against the Brazilian election system incessantly waged by ultrarightist former President Jair Bolsonaro prior to the balloting.
Lula arrived at the Brasilia Cathedral on Sunday morning, where the events surrounding his inauguration for a non-consecutive third presidential term began with a parade amid a crowd of thousands who had been waiting at the scene for hours.
Upon arriving at the Cathedral along with his wife Rosangela “Janja” sa Silva and Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin and his wife Maria Lucia Ribeiro, Lula got into a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith convertible belonging to the President’s Office to travel the two kilometers (1.25 miles) to the Parliament, where he was sworn in.
Lula took over the reins of power from Bolsonaro, whom he defeated in the Oct. 30 run-off election and who last Friday traveled to the United States without ever having acknowledged his defeat.
The ceremonial events are being conducted on the Esplanade of the Ministries, an avenue where all the national government buildings are located and where, since early on the morning of New Year’s Day, tens of thousands of people – most of them dressed in the traditional red of the Workers Party (PT), which Lula heads – have been waiting.
Lula took office for the first time exactly 20 years ago, then won reelection four years later to lead Brazil from 2003-2010.
At the legislative seat, along with all the top executive branch officials, delegations from more than 50 countries were also on hand for the inauguration.
Among the heads of state and government from other nations who are in the Brazilian capital for the event are King Felipe VI of Spain, as well as the presidents of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez; Bolivia, Luis Arce; Colombia, Gustavo Petro; Chile, Gabriel Boric; Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benitez; Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou; Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa; and Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
After taking the oath of office, Lula delivered his first speech to Parliament as Brazil’s new president and later will head to neighboring Planalto Palace, the seat of government, where he will greet the gathered thousands of supporters on the Esplanade.
The official ceremonies will conclude with a reception offered by Lula for the foreign delegations at Itamaraty Palace, the seat of the Foreign Ministry, located about 500 meters (one-third of a mile) from the headquarters of the executive branch.
Starting hours before the kick-off of the ceremonial events, assorted entertainment has been under way on the Esplanade, including the so-called Festival of the Future, a concert at which 50 or so popular singers, musicians and other artists have been performing and will continue to do so through early Monday morning.