Share
Brazil’s far-right leader to take office

Brazil’s far-right leader to take office

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Bolsonaro arrived at Congress with his wife Michelle Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has used his inaugural speech to promise to build a “society without discrimination or division”. The former army captain told Congress he wanted a “national pact” to free Brazil of corruption, crime and economic mismanagement.In a…

Jair Bolsonaro waves as he drives past in Brasilia, Brazil, January 1, 2019 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Bolsonaro arrived at Congress with his wife Michelle

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has used his inaugural speech to promise to build a “society without discrimination or division”.

The former army captain told Congress he wanted a “national pact” to free Brazil of corruption, crime and economic mismanagement.

In a swipe at the left, he vowed to free Brazil of “ideology”.

He is seen as a deeply divisive figure whose racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks have angered many.

Mr Bolsonaro, 63, won the presidential election by a wide margin against Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers’ Party on 28 October.

He was propelled to victory by campaign promises to curb Brazil’s rampant corruption and crime.

US President Donald Trump commended him for his speech on Tuesday, saying the US was “with” him.

Among the foreign guests at the inauguration were US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

What exactly did Bolsonaro promise?

“Brazil will return to being a country free of ideological constrictions,” he told Congress in the capital, Brasilia.

“I will divide power in a progressive, conscientious and responsible way.”

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption Guards are on duty in ceremonial dress at the Congress for the inauguration

His administration, he said, was “committed to those Brazilians who want good schools to prepare their kids for the job market and not for political militancy”.

Pledging support form the military and police, he said: “The national motto is order and progress. No society can develop without respecting these.”

On the economy, he promised to “create a new virtuous cycle to open markets” and “carry out important structural reforms” to tackle the public deficit.

In an apparent reference to gun control, he said, “Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves.” On Saturday, he had tweeted that he would issue a decree to allow citizens who do not have a criminal record to own guns.

Image copyright EPA

Image caption A giant figure of Mr Bolsonaro was erected for the inauguration in Brasilia

After being sworn in at Congress, Mr Bolsonaro went on to the Planalto Palace where the outgoing President, Michel Temer, handed over the presidential sash.

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption Jair Bolsonaro gestures after receiving the presidential sash

Speaking afterwards, AFP news agency reports, he said Brazil would “start to free itself of socialism” and “political correctness”.

On a day filled with pageant, he travelled around Brasilia in an open-top vintage Rolls Royce escorted by cavalry on white horses and jogging security guards, as crowds of supporters cheered.

“I came here just for the inauguration,” supporter Antonio Vendramin told AFP.

“I made a lot of money and saved money to buy the ticket, to be able to buy the plane ticket because it’s a long way to come by car but we managed to make it all the way to be here on this day for President Bolsonaro’s inauguration. We’re full of pride.”

Who is Bolsonaro?

Despite portraying himself as a political outsider during his campaign, Mr Bolsonaro served seven terms in Brazil’s lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, before being elected president.

He has been a member of several political parties but is currently in the Social Liberal Party (PSL), which has grown from having a tiny presence in Congress to becoming the party with the second largest number of deputies in the lower house.

Image copyright Reuters

Image caption Firefighters kept Bolsonaro followers cool outside the presidential palace in Brasilia

Before becoming a politician, Mr Bolsonaro served in Brazil’s military, where he was a paratrooper and rose to the rank of captain.

During the election race in September, he was stabbed at a rally and seriously injured, taking more than a month to recover.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption Mr Bolsonaro has chosen ex-military officers for many key government posts

During his time as a lawmaker, Mr Bolsonaro represented the interests of the armed forces and since his election he has named seven former military men to key ministries.

He has also expressed nostalgia for the time when Brazil was under military rule and the hard-line policies enforced during the period in which thousands were jailed and tortured.

Why did his election cause such a stir?

Brazil only returned to democracy in 1985 after more than 20 years under military rule and some critics see his election as a threat to the country’s democracy.

Previous comments he has made endorsing the use of torture and disparaging women, gay people and Afro-Brazilians have left many Brazilians worried.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWhy are same-sex couples in Brazil rushing to get married?

The election campaign which brought him to power has left the country deeply divided into those who see him as the man to put Brazil on to the right track after massive corruption scandals, and those who fear he could lead Brazil into an authoritarian future.

What are his key policies?

Mr Bolsonaro’s promise to drive down crime and stamp out corruption comes after scores of top businessmen and high-ranking politicians, including former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, were jailed.

Days after being elected, he picked Brazil’s most famous anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, as his minister of justice.

Mr Moro was the key force behind the massive Car Wash corruption investigation.

There was concern among environmentalists when Mr Bolsonaro suggested during the election campaign that the ministry of agriculture might be merged with that of the environment.

But he backtracked and has also revoked a pledge to quit the Paris climate accord, which sets targets for cutting greenhouse gases.

How will Brazil’s international relations be affected?

Mr Bolsonaro has been very clear about who he considers to be his international allies and those he views as foes.

Mr Trump is “an example” to him and Mr Bolsonaro has promised to follow the US lead and relocate Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Image copyright EPA

Image caption Mr Bolsonaro visited a synagogue with Benjamin Netanyahu in Rio

Mr Bolsonaro also accused Cuba of holding back some of the salaries paid to Cuban doctors working in Brazil, prompting Cuba to pull out their doctors in retaliation.

Read More