As Lula Begins To Rebuild In Brazil, Bolsonaro Settles Into Life On The Run
After his stunning win against far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro at the run-off election in October, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s president on January 1. Lula’s inauguration marks the beginning of the end for Bolsonaro, who took off for the United States on Friday to evade arrest.
It also marks the beginning of the returning leftist president’s vow to make radical changes to save a country in crisis. On his first day in office, Lula signed a decree that asked the general Controller of the Union (CGU) to re-evaluate, in 30 days, Bolsonaro’s 100-year secrecy decrees on documents and information related to the private life of public servants.
Lula, whose campaign leaned heavily on restoring democracy and protecting the Amazon, also revived the $1 billion Amazon Fund, decreed seven packages directed towards fighting against deforestation in the Amazon and rebuilding the environmental institutions that Bolsonaro dissolved in his single term in office. Lula also repealed a measure on illegal mining.
In his inauguration speech, Lula said that his administration does “not carry any spirit of revenge against those who tried to subjugate the nation to their personal and ideological designs, but we will guarantee the rule of law,” notably without mentioning Bolsonaro by name. “Those who erred will answer for their errors.”
Without his presidential immunity, Bolsonaro faces a host of investigations from his time as president, particularly his handling of the pandemic, which Lula called a “genocide” that killed more than 680,000 Brazilians.
“The responsibilities for this genocide must be investigated and must not go unpunished,” Lula said in his speech.
Bolsonaro was advised by his lawyers to leave the country before the inauguration to avoid the threat of an arrest. The Brazilian news portal G1 reported that the former president also previously consulted if he could “be punished” if he did not pass the presidential sash to Lula.
The former president flew to Florida on Friday, and by Saturday morning he was seen walking around in shorts, greeting people in a gated community in Orlando where Brazilian immigrants live.
Bolsonaro reportedly intends to stay in Florida for at least a month. It will fend off any immediate legal action from Brazil, but it’s unlikely that it will protect him from prosecution.
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