BRASILIA – The “hope” of thousands – if not millions – of Brazilians was renewed on Tuesday with the ascension to power of ultra-rightist President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who was inaugurated amid an unprecedented security operation in the capital city of Brasilia.
With a never-before-seen massive deployment of police and army troops, authorities “militarized” Brasilia to welcome the new president, who took over for Michel Temer after winning 56 percent of the vote in the October election, defeating Fernando Haddad, the political protege of imprisoned leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
After making the sign of the cross and giving a military salute in front of the Brasilia Cathedral, Bolsonaro departed in a Rolls Royce “Silver Wraith” convertible for Congress, where he took the oath of office and promised to strengthen the country’s “Judeo-Christian” values, fight “gender ideology” and place “God above everyone,” the latter being one of his main campaign slogans that resonated particularly well with many voters.
Later, at Planalto Palace, the presidential residence, Bolsonaro – accompanied by his wife Michelle – addressed the thousands of people gathered there to cheer and hail him.
The president broke with protocol and had his wife say a few words, directing her remarks to Brazilians with sign language, a gesture that was roundly applauded by the public.
Then, the president reiterated the principle guidelines for his government, emphasized the fight against socialism and noted that the Brazilian flag “will never more be red,” a reference to the leftist Workers Party (PT), which governed for years before he came to power.
His remarks were acclaimed by the tens of thousands of Brazilians gathered along the Explanada de los Ministerios, Brasilia’s central avenue along which all the country’s main public institutions have their headquarters and where authorities said that some 500,000 people had congregated on Inauguration Day.
That figure, however, was less than expected because, among other reasons, of the threat of rain that never materialized and the strict security measures implemented all along the perimeter given the fears of another attack on Bolsonaro, who was hospitalized for a month late in the election campaign after being stabbed at a political rally in September.
The relatively young Brazilian capital, which was founded in the geographical center of the country in 1960, welcomed firm supporters of Bolsonaro – a longtime apologist for the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship – but also thousands of people who say they are tired of the ongoing political corruption that prevails here, the old brand of politics, the 13 years of PT governance and the pervasive violence that last year alone took the lives of more than 60,000 people.
Some 12,000 security agents – including police and all three of the military branches – were deployed throughout the capital, along with patrolling armored vehicles and helicopters, with fighter bombers ready to take off and deal with any threat and anti-aircraft missile batteries authorized to shoot down any “hostile” aircraft.Bolsonaro Increases Brazil’s Minimum Wage by 4.6%