‘We are now welcome’: Brazilians of all kinds congratulate Lula as he takes office | Brazil

Brazilian drag queen Salade Campari came dressed as Marilyn Monroe to toast her country’s new era.

“I feel so happy,” said the activist and actress as she posed for selfies outside Brazil’s presidential palace as she waited for the country’s incoming president. Luis Inacio Lula da SilvaCome.

“Now Brazil’s LGBTQIA+ community can feel free because we have a president who respects diversity. This is very important. Everyone is welcome now,” Campari said.

“Nobody was welcome under that man,” he added of Lula’s proudly partisan predecessor. Jair BolsonaroHis political demise has provided a long-awaited moment of redemption for the country’s marginalized minorities and its black majority.

During Bolsonaro’s four-year rule, the presidential palace was occupied by a mostly white, male crowd of politicians and military officers, many of whom were unabashed about their disdain for indigenous and traditional black communities, favela residents and members of Brazil’s civil rights movement.

“The minority must bow to the majority,” Bolsonaro once declared.

But when Lula, 77, arrived to take office on Sunday, the stunning marble ramparts inside the palace were surrounded by citizens representing one of the world’s most socially and ethnically diverse countries.

Lula’s supporters display the Brazilian flag at the presidential inauguration in Brasilia. Photo: Mike Sena/Getty Images

“I saw transvestites and women, transvestites, drag queens, disabled people … pastors, priests and Afro-Brazilian religious leaders,” said Rene Silva, a black favela activist in the crowd.

“I saw the Brazil I knew. We can see ourselves,” added Silva. “I felt at home.”

Bolsonaro skipped the ceremony, flying to the U.S. ahead of the inauguration, allowing Lula to use the symbolic step of president Sasha to emphasize his desire to build an inclusive and tolerant nation.

Many onlookers, including Silva, wept as the new president climbed the ramp surrounded by eight representatives of Brazilian diversity and struggle, including respected tribal leader Rawni Meduktire, a disabled influencer and metal worker. The sari was presented to Lula by Aline Sosa, a black trash collector and activist.

“This is a historic moment,” said Douglas Belchier, civil rights leader of the Black Coalition for Rights, who was there.

Lula has injected similar diversity into his new administration in an effort to bring all of Brazil’s 215 million people back into the fold after minorities were expelled from Bolsonaro’s tumultuous era.

“I will rule for all, looking forward to our bright shared future, not in the rearview mirror of division and intolerance,” Lula told tens of thousands of supporters who had gathered to hear him.

Silvio Almeida, one of Brazil’s most prominent black intellectuals, will lead Lula’s human rights ministry, replacing hardline evangelical preacher Damares Alves.

Favela-born human rights activist Aniel Franco will lead the Ministry for Racial Equality. Indigenous activist and politician Sonia Guajara will lead Brazil’s first ministry for indigenous peoples.

Ahead of Lula’s inauguration, Guajajara told supporters that Brazil was entering a new era in which the “opposition” would occupy the corridors of power.

“We are here today because we were never afraid to fight. We never gave up,” Cujajara said to loud cheers. “We are here to say that Brazil will never exist without us.”

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