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Brazil's New President Bolsonaro Vows to 'Strengthen Democracy'

2019-01-01 20:32
Right-wing nationalist Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil's president on Tuesday (January 01) in a ceremony at Brazil's National Congress Building. Addressing a joint session of Congress minutes after taking the oath of office, Bolsonaro, a former Army captain and admirer of the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, vowed to adhere to democratic norms. He said his government would be guided by the promises he made to Brazilian voters fed up with graft, high levels of violent crime and a still-sputtering economy. Bolsonaro, 63, was a seven-term fringe congressman who rode a wave of anti-establishment anger to became Brazil's first far-right president since a military dictatorship gave way to civilian rule three decades ago. Bolsonaro plans to realign Brazil internationally, moving away from developing nation allies and closer to the policies of Western leaders, particularly U.S. President Donald Trump, who sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to his inauguration. As a clear sign of that diplomatic shift, Bolsonaro plans to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking with Brazil's traditional support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue. Crowds of supporters, many with the Brazilian flag draped around their shoulders and with faces painted yellow and green, the national colors, gathered before the Planalto palace, where later Tuesday the presidential sash will be draped on Bolsonaro. Backed massively by conservative sectors of Brazil, including Christian evangelical churches, Bolsonaro would block moves to legalize abortion beyond even the current limited exceptions and remove sex education from public schools, opposing what he calls "cultural Marxism" introduced by recent leftist governments.