On Sunday, Jan. 1, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva was officially reinstated as President of Brazil after 12 years following the end of his second term-a historic legal battle to return his electoral eligibility amidst an ongoing struggle against a growing fascist movement.
Lula’s monumental victory, preventing the re-election of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, had the country in a state of excitement and hope. The inauguration ceremony was set to be one of the biggest parties in the history of Brazilian democracy.
The inauguration attracted an audience of over 300,000 people. In addition to the traditional procession on the Esplanade of Ministries and other ceremonies at the Presidential Palace, the government-elect organized a music festival featuring over 60 artists.
Brazilian protocol requires the outgoing president to symbolically hand over the reins of power by presenting the new president with the ceremonial sash. However, former president, Jair Bolsonaro, fled to Miami before the inauguration began. The PT (Workers Party) used this faux pas as an opportunity to make a larger statement by including important citizens whose work represents the diversity and progressive potential of Brazilian civil society.
Ultimately, Lula received the presidential sash from the hands of a Black woman named Aline Souza. Aline has worked as a trash collector and recycler since she was 14 years old, learning the trade from her mother and grandmother. She is a member part of the National Collectors Movement and is a beneficiary of Minha Casa, Minha Vida – a housing program created by the Lula government.
Mother of seven children, Aline is the current president of the Central Cooperatives of Recyclable Materials of DF and Surroundings (Centcoop-DF). She is also responsible for the National Secretariat of Women and Youth of Unicatadores.
The majority of the more than 60 million votes for Lula came from women like Souza who represent the majority in Brazilian society. Before being officially bestowed to Lula, the presidential sash symbolically passed through the hands of several other notable citizens:
There was 10-year-old Francisco Filho, a resident of Itaquera, on the outskirts of São Paulo. Francisco is a swimming champion and soccer player. He represented the struggle to end violence against Black children in Brazil, where police killed kids like Marcos Vinicius, from Maré, who was murdered by police raiding his neighborhood. He was still wearing his school uniform and backpack on the way to school.
Chief Raoni Metuktire is the 90-year-old indigenous leader of the Kayapó people and internationally recognized human rights advocate. Raoni leads the struggle of indigenous peoples and the Amazon. In November 2012, Raoni was received by the then President of France, François Hollande, at the Elysée Palace. At the time, the chief asked for the preservation of the Amazon and the people who live in the region.
Jucimara Fausto dos Santos is a cook and resident of Maringá. She dedicates her life to cooking and was called to make bread for protestors during the “Free Lula” demonstration, which was set up next to the headquarters of the Federal Police of Curitiba. While Lula was in prison, Jucimara was cooking at the Curitiba camp for ten months. Currently, she works at the Association of Employees of the State University of Maringá (UEM) and, whenever she can, makes bread for charities
Ivan Baron, the anti-ableist influencer, was born in Rio Grande do Norte. Baron was diagnosed with viral meningitis at the age of 3, causing cerebral palsy. The social media star has become a leader in the anti-ableist struggle, being an ambassador for the social inclusion of people with disabilities.
Weslley Viesba Rodrigues Rocha is a 36 years old metallurgist. Weslley works in the ABC region of São Paulo. He is married and the father of two boys. He graduated in Physical Education with the help of federal student aid, in addition to having completed technical courses in the areas of drafting, applied mathematics and electrical science.
Weslley is also a DJ in a rap group called “Falange”, where he tells stories of his life through music.
The inaugural procession symbolized a clear repudiation and resistance to the previous party’s misrule and extreme culture.
It symbolized the idea that Lula did not win by simply being the charismatic leader a party but because of his ability to represent larger social movements who are ready to take Brazil in a new direction.