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

Brazilian drag queen Salette Campari came to toast the new era for her country dressed as Marilyn Monroe.

“I feel wonderfully happy,” said the activist and performer as she posed for a selfie outside Brazil’s presidential palace while awaiting the country’s next president. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvain order to arrive.

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

“No one was welcome in this man’s shadow,” she added of Lola’s proudly biased ancestor. Jair Bolsonarowhose political demise provided a long-awaited moment of redemption for the country’s marginalized minorities, as well as its black majority.

During Bolsonaro’s four-year rule, the presidential palace was occupied by a predominantly white, male congregation of politicians and military officials, many of whom were unabashed in their disregard for indigenous and traditional black communities, favela dwellers and members of Brazil’s civil rights movement.

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

But as Lula, 77, arrived to take office on Sunday, the stunning marble ramp of the palace was surrounded by a mix of citizens representing one of the world’s most socially and ethnically diverse nations.

Lula’s supporters display the Brazilian flag during the presidential inauguration ceremony in Brasilia. Photo: Mike Cena/Getty Images

“I saw trans men and women, transvestites, drag queens, people with disabilities… There were priests, chaplains and Afro-Brazilian religious leaders,” said René Silva, a black slum activist who was in the crowd.

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

Bolsonaro boycotted the ceremony, having flown to the United States on the eve of the inauguration, allowing Lula to use the symbolic passing of the presidential sash to underscore his desire to build an inclusive and tolerant nation.

Many onlookers, including Silva, wept as the new president walked down the ramp surrounded by eight representatives of Brazilian diversity and struggle, including revered indigenous leader Rony Metocter, a disabled altruist and metalworker. Activist and black trash collector handed the mantle to Lola.

“This is a historic moment,” said Douglas Belchior, a civil rights leader from the Blacks for Rights Alliance who was there.

Lula injected similar diversity into his new administration in a bid to bring all of Brazil’s 215 million people back into the fold after minorities were ousted from the turbulent Bolsonaro era.

“I will judge for all, looking forward into our bright common future rather than into the rear-view mirror of division and intolerance,” Lula told tens of thousands of supporters who gathered to hear him speak.

Silvio Almeida, one of Brazil’s most famous black intellectuals, will head Lula’s Ministry of Human Rights, replacing radical evangelical preacher Damars Alves.

Slum-born human rights activist Anil Franco will lead the Ministry of Racial Equality. Indigenous activist and politician Sonia Guajara will lead Brazil’s first indigenous ministry.

Speaking on the eve of Lula’s inauguration, Guajara told his supporters that Brazil was entering a new era in which the “resistance” occupied the corridors of power.

“We are here today because we were not afraid to fight. We are here to say there will be no Brazil again without us,” Guajara said, to loud cheers.

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