Jair Bolsonaro sworn in as Brazil’s president

Latin America

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro gestures at the Congress before he is sworn in as Brazil’s new president, in Brasilia on January 1, 2019. – Bolsonaro takes office with promises to radically change the path taken by Latin America’s biggest country by trashing decades of centre-left policies. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP)

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.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Jair Bolsonaro has been sworn in as Brazil’s 38th president, amid concerns that his nationalist views could isolate Brazil from the rest of Latin America.

Tens of thousands of Brazilians attended the swearing in of right-wing firebrand Bolsonaro in the country’s capital, Brasilia.

There was tight security as his motorcade made its way along wide promenades , amid grand pomp and regalia. Expectations were high among his supporters.

“I hope that Jair Bolsonaro is going to improve the economy and the public security that were his biggest campaign promises,” said Marco Maciel, a driver from São Paulo.

“Thank God we are getting rid of the leftists that mocked the Brazilian people and destroyed our economy. Thank God Bolsonaro was elected,” said Brasília university teacher Marcela Magalhães.

Speaking at the National Congress, the 63-year-old former army captain called for unity.

“I call every congressman to help me in the mission of restoring and lifting the country, freeing it for good from corruption, from crime, from economic irresponsibility and from ideological submission.”

Twelve foreign leaders attended the event including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China’s Vice-Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Ji Bingxuan, were also among attendees.

But Bolsonaro and his inauguration team left leaders from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua off the guest list for the ceremony.

It is the first time regional neighbors with diplomatic relations with Brazil have not been invited to a presidential inauguration.

“He is been very ideological, and he said that his government wouldn’t be ideological, they wouldn’t be biased. They would like try to make more trade with more countries and so on and he is doing it the other way around,” said Pedro Castelo Branco, a political analyst at Rio de Janeiro’s State University.

Two of Brazil’s largest left-wing parties, the Workers’ Party and the Social Liberty Party, boycotted the ceremony.

Bolsonaro’s rise to the presidency comes at a critical time for Brazil, with soaring crime rates, a sluggish economy and open wounds from corruption scandals among its most pressing issues.

These are challenges the new president’s supporters believe will be met by increased police and military force, downsizing government and privatizing state-run businesses.

Andrea Murta discusses the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s President

CGTN’s Mike Walter talks with Andrea Murta, director of North America at JOTA, about the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Jose Roberto de Toledo talks about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s economic policies

For more on Brazil’s economic prospects under Bolsonaro, CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Jose Roberto de Toledo, director of news agency PrimaPagina.