Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spoke on Thursday about his desire to defeat the “new monster” who is “fanatically far right” not only in his country but around the world.
Left-wing former trade unionist Lula took over from far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro early this month after beating his bitter rival in last October’s election.
At 77, Lula is now serving his third term as president, having led Latin America’s largest economy from 2003 to 2010.
“We must challenge and defeat the new monster that is the rise of a fanatical, rabid far right that hates anyone who does not share their opinion,” Lula told the university’s rectors at the presidential palace in Brasilia.
Lula said this was “not just a Brazilian problem” but said he had never seen the country “seized by so much hatred”.
He compared the populist ex-leader Bolsonaro’s impact on the country to that of former US President Donald Trump – Bolsonaro was often referred to as the “Tropical Trump” – or the right-wing leadership in Hungary and Italy.
“Even though we defeated Bolsonaro, we still need to defeat hate, lies, disinformation and fanatics, because this society needs to be civilized again.”
On January 8, a week after Lula’s return to office, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the seats of power in Brasilia, occupying the presidential palace, congress and supreme court, smashing facades and vandalizing offices.
Since then, about 2,000 people have been arrested, with nearly 1,400 still in custody.
In an interview with the television channel Globo News, Lula pointed the finger at Bolsonaro for the chaos.
He said Bolsonaro’s initial silence on the issue and his decision to fly to Miami just before it happened suggested that “he knew what was going to happen, and he had a lot to do with it”.
“Perhaps Bolsonaro hoped to return to Brazil amidst the glory of a coup.”
On Wednesday night, Lula said he would welcome German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on January 30 and meet US President Joe Biden in February to discuss a common approach to the far right.
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