On Jan. 1, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as the new president of Brazil – the third time he has held the country’s highest office.
The veteran left-wing politician, known widely as Lula, also led the country between 2003 and 2010 – and defeated Jair Bolsonaro in October’s poll.
In his first speech, Lula vowed to rebuild a country in “terrible ruins”.
He decried the policies of his predecessor, who went to the US on Friday to avoid the handover ceremony.
A sea of Lula supporters gathered in front of Congress since early in the morning – decked out in the red color of his Workers’ Party. They traveled to see their leader sworn in – but also for a celebration.
More than 60 artists – including Samba legend Martinho da Vila – were booked to perform on two giant stages decorated in the national flag as part of a music festival dubbed “Lulapalooza”.
“Love has won over hate,” read one banner carried by a man dressed as Lula – complete with a presidential sash.
Supporters of Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacted holding flags after gathering to listen to his speech at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 1, 2023
“Brazil needed this change, this transformation,” said another backer of the incoming leader as she queued for Sunday’s festivities.
Juliana Barreto – who is from Lula’s home state Pernambuco – told the BBC that her country was “a disaster” previously.
Lula and incoming Vice-President Geraldo Alckmin paraded through the city on an open-top convertible before proceeding to the Congress building – where the swearing-in occurred at the start of the formal inauguration ceremony.
The men have spent the past days selecting their cabinet and appointing supporters to key state-owned businesses.
Shortly after being sworn in, Lula sought to instill a sense of hope in the people of Brazil and promised to “rebuild the nation and make a Brazil of all, for all”.
There were several instances when he got out his hanky. His most emotional moment came when speaking to the Brazilian people after the swearing-in ceremony – he started sobbing when talking about those who beg at traffic lights, desperate for food.
Probably not even Lula thought this day would ever come – a return to the top job after two decades, despite a spell in prison after being convicted of corruption. The convictions were subsequently annulled in 2021.
Much of his speech to Congress was about unity and reconstruction. The two words are crucial in such a deeply divided country, hit hard by the pandemic and hugely polarized politically.
Lula knows that his ultimate challenge will be to convince those who feel he is a corrupt politician who belongs in jail that he does now belong in the presidential palace again and can be their leader too.
He pledged to undo the legacy of his predecessor’s government, which he said involved depleting funding for education, health and the conservation of the Amazon rainforest.
To huge cheers from those watching in Congress, he also promised to revoke Mr Bolsonaro’s controversial gun laws immediately.
Lula went on to state that his government would not be motivated by “a spirit of revenge”, but that those who had made mistakes would answer for their errors.