Brazil's Bolsonaro assumes presidency

Brazil’s Bolsonaro assumes presidency, promises big changes

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro assumes presidency, promises big changes

Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil’s president Tuesday, taking the reins of Latin America’s largest and most populous nation with promises to overhaul myriad aspects of daily life and put an end to business-as-usual governing.

For the far-right former army captain, the New Year’s Day inauguration was the culmination of a journey from a marginalized and even ridiculed congressman to a leader who many Brazilians hope can combat endemic corruption as well as violence that routinely gives the nation the dubious distinction of being world leader in total homicides.

A fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, the 63-year-old longtime congressman rose to power on an anti-corruption and pro-gun agenda that has energized conservatives and hard-right supporters after four consecutive presidential election wins by the left-leaning Workers’ Party.

Bolsonaro was the latest of several far-right leaders around the globe who have come to power by riding waves of anger at the establishment and promising to ditch the status quo.

“Congratulations to President @jairbolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech,” Trump tweeted. “The U.S.A. is with you!”

Tuesday’s festivities in the capital of Brasilia began with a motorcade procession along the main road leading to Congress and other government buildings. Bolsonaro and his wife, Michelle, stood up in an open-top Rolls-Royce and waved to thousands of onlookers.

They were surrounded by dozens of guards on horses and plain-clothes bodyguards who ran beside the car.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro assumes presidency, promises big changes

Once inside Congress, Bolsonaro and his vice president, retired Gen. Hamilton Mourao, took the oath of office. Bolsonaro then read a short speech that included many of the far-right positions he staked out during the campaign.

He promised to combat the “ideology of gender” teaching in schools, “respect our Judeo-Christian tradition” and “prepare children for the job market, not political militancy.”

“I call on all congressmen to help me rescue Brazil from corruption, criminality and ideological submission,” he said.

A short time later, Bolsonaro spoke to thousands of supporters outside, promising to “free Brazil” from socialism and political correctness.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro assumes presidency, promises big changes

As he spoke, supporters began to chant “Myth! Myth! Myth!”— a nickname that began years ago with internet memes of Bolsonaro and became more common during last year’s campaign. Bolsonaro’s middle name is Messias, or Messiah in English, and many supporters believe he was chosen by God to lead Brazil, an assertion bolstered after Bolsonaro survived a stabbing during a campaign rally in September.

During Tuesday’s speech, Bolsonaro stopped at one point, pulled out a Brazilian flag and wildly waved it, prompting roars from the crowd.

“Our flag will never be red,” Bolsonaro said, a reference to communism. “Our flag will only be red if blood is needed to keep it green and yellow.”

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