In his inauguration speech on Sunday, January 1st, the new president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, committed himself to “resume efforts towards integration” in Latin America, in order to establish “an active and elevated dialogue” with other regions of the world.
“We will resume the work of integration beginning with Mercosur [the southern common market], the revitalization of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), and other sovereign bodies” that exist in Latin America, Lula told Parliament in his speech after taking the oath of office as Brazil’s new president.
He also guaranteed that his government will strengthen their cooperation with the BRICS forum – made up of Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa – as well as extending bridges to Africa and the developing world, without neglecting relations with the United States or the European Union.
Ending the isolation
Lula promised that Brazil “will break the isolation imposed on it in the last few years,” referring to the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro. The country will “return to the world,” he continued, under the banners of democracy and combat against hunger and poverty.
Brazil “has gone back to being a sovereign country,” that will assume all its responsibilities over the Amazon region and dedicate all its diplomacy to the service of defending democracy, “which is threatened all over the planet by authoritarian extremism” he asserted.
The new president also expressed his conviction that “politics, in its highest sense, is the best road for building consensus” and overcoming conflicts.
“To deny or criminalize political activism is the road of tyranny,” he maintained.
Lula’s inauguration ceremony was held under strict security measures, due to threats from the most radical activists of the Bolsonaro camp, who continued demanding a military coup to keep Bolsonaro in power.
Delegations from around fifty countries were present at the Parliamentary ceremony, along with the entire diplomatic corps in the country.
Among those attending were Felipe IV, King of Spain; and national presidents Alberto Fernandez of Argentina, Luis Arce of Bolivia, Gustavo Petro of Colombia, Gabriel Boric of Chile, Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay, Luis Lacalle Pou of Uruguay, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany.
New President pledges to defend the Amazon region
During his first address under his new position, Lula issued a strong plea for the defense of the environment. He pledged to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon region and to protect the indigenous peoples.
“We can’t allow [Amazonia] to become a lawless territory. We’re not going to tolerate the environmental degradation that has done so much damage to our country,” the head of the Workers’ Party affirmed in his address to Congress, in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.
Lula, 77, declared that Brazil “could be on the global front lines,” and towards that objective he would initiate “an adequate energy source transition” to “eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Brazil doesn’t need to deforest in order to broaden its agricultural frontier,” he insisted.
In the four years that ex-president Jair Bolsonaro was in power, he defended the exploitation of minerals and lumber in the indigenous reserves. During the past four years, the statistics regarding deforestation and forest fires in the planet’s largest tropical forest skyrocketed upwards.
Lula stressed that Brazilians can live “without cutting down” the trees, and “without invading the biomass,” even though, at the same time, he said he’d incentivize the legalization of lands for their sustainable productive use.
In the same vein, he spoke of the defense of the indigenous peoples, that – according to different ecological organizations – were left abandoned by the previous administration.
According to Lula: “No one knows [the forests] better than those who have been there from time immemorial,” in allusion to the aboriginal peoples. He let it be understood that he would resume the land demarcation in the indigenous territories that had remained paralyzed during the four years of Bolsonaro’s rule.
“Every designated parcel of land is a new environmental area (…) We’re going to overturn all the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples,” Lula pledged.
Sonia Guajajara, one of the best-known indigenous leaders in the international sphere, has been named to lead the new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, one of 37 Ministries that will make up Lula’s administration.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assumed the Brazilian presidency for the third time on January 1st, after having served two consecutive terms between 2003 and 2010.