Lula with his full cabinet of Ministers. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert
The presidential inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party of Brazil is expected to be a historic political, cultural, and international event. The government team organizing the ceremony expects over 300,000 people to be present on Sunday January 1 at the Esplanade of the Ministries in the capital Brasilia.
On Tuesday December 27, the National Congress held a simulation of the inauguration ceremony, to rehearse the steps of the teams that will perform that day. The schedule begins with the arrival of the authorities and other guests, scheduled between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm on Sunday. From 1:45 pm onwards, the Heads of Government and State who will attend the event will begin to arrive.
The international guest list is also set to break records. In total, Lula will receive representatives from 120 countries. 53 of them with heads of state and ministers. 17 heads of state are confirmed from Germany, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, Portugal, Suriname, East Timor, Uruguay, Zimbabwe and Spain, whose representative will be King Felipe VI. In 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro (Liberal Party) received 10 heads of state and 18 delegations in total during the inauguration.
Additionally, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro confirmed on Friday December 30 that he would attend the ceremony in Brasilia. The announcement was made after Jair Bolsonaro’s government revoked an ordinance banning his entry to Brazil, put in place in August 2019. The participation of Maduro marks a new chapter in the neighboring countries’ relationship which had been in a stalemate under the rule of Bolsonaro.
According to the day’s program, Lula and the vice-president elect, Geraldo Alckmin, will arrive at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia between 2:20 pm and 2:30 pm, and shortly after, their motorcade will head to the National Congress. It is not yet known if Lula will be in an open car. Lula’s security team favors an armored vehicle to increase protection against possible attacks, but Lula is reportedly against the idea and prefers to ride in an open car.
Lula and Alckmin will arrive at Congress at 2:40 pm, and will be officially received by the presidents of the Congress, Rodrigo Pacheco (Social Democratic Party), and of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (Progressive Party). At 3:00 pm, the session of presidential investiture begins, which takes place in the Plenary hall.
The ceremony ends at 3:50 pm, when Lula and Alckmin will go to the Hall of the Presidency of the Federal Senate, from where they will leave at 4:00 pm to the outside area of the Congress to attend the military honors ceremony. At 4:20 pm they will leave for the Planalto Palace, where Lula will receive the presidential sash.
As outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro has fled Brazil to Florida, and his vice-president, Hamilton Mourão, will also not participate in the ceremony, the sash will be given to Lula by someone else. Finally, after leaving the Planalto, the new president will be received by heads of state and representatives of other countries at the Itamaraty Palace (headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), located on the Esplanade of the Ministries.
The inauguration has traditional characteristics, but this year will also feature some innovations. Coordinated by the future first lady, Rosângela da Silva [Janja], the ceremony will feature, for example, the presence of Lula and Janja’s dog Resistência [Resistance], adopted by the sociologist in Curitiba, when Lula was still incarcerated in the city’s Federal Police Superintendence.
Resistência will participate in the ceremony directly from the ramp of the Planalto Palace, as a symbol of Lula’s resistance during the period he was imprisoned. Other changes from recent years include the decision to not have fireworks with noise, in respect for animals and people with disabilities and autism.
The change responds to a request from representatives of these sectors, who also requested that the new government avoid the 21 cannon shots typical of the ceremony. Performed by the 32nd Field Artillery Group, the honor was created at the time of the proclamation of the Republic, but should be revised this year. Lula’s team is coordinating with the Senate to try to find an alternative to this rite.
The official protocol program is not the only one on inauguration day. There will also be a series of concerts from 10 am to 1 pm, and they will resume at 6:30 pm, when the institutional rites are over. In total, 57 artists will perform in ten different shows.
The concert part of the day’s events, called Festival of the Future, will feature local and national names on two stages, baptized Gal Costa and Elza Soares in homage to the two Brazilian singers who passed away in 2022. The public attending the venue will be able to follow the official ceremony of Lula’s parade and the shows also on large screens distributed throughout the space.
Caravans from all regions of the country have been arriving to Brasilia over the past several days to participate in the Popular Movements’ Camp for the inauguration. The delegations are staying in the Mané Garrincha Stadium, and an estimated 10,000 people are expected to arrive at the Camp.
With participation of diverse social organizations and movements of Brazil such as the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, the World March of Women, Movement of People Affected by Dams, and others, the Popular Movements’ Camp materializes the collective work of thousands of workers from the countryside and the city that, in the last period, dedicated themselves to the campaign to elect Lula.
According to Tuira Tule, from the MST’s national direction, “Everything we have experienced in the last period since the coup we experienced in 2016, was a great process of preparation for this moment.”
The Camp will be inaugurated on the afternoon of December 31 with the Assembly of Popular Movements, reaffirming the position of the organizations to continue fighting and organizing in defense of social rights and public policies that transform the lives of the working class in the third mandate of Lula’s government. “It will be a space to debate about our political moment, but mainly to prepare ourselves for the inauguration day, in a collective way and with much hope and joy,” Tule stated.
Due of the magnitude and importance of the event, the inauguration will have a super security scheme at the Ministries Esplanade and around the Three Branches. In total, 700 Federal Police agents will be deployed at the site, which will also have a bomb squad and an aerial barrier to prevent the presence of drones in the vicinity. The nearly 300,000 people expected at the Esplanade will need to go through a personal search to enter the site.
There will also be a massive contingent from the Public Security Secretariat of the Federal District. The Federal District government has not yet released the details of the operation, which should come to light in the coming days. It is already known, however, that agents from the administrative area of the police have been called to work in patrolling.
The future Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, met with the governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis, on Tuesday December 27, and said after the meeting that the inauguration “will occur as scheduled in all its dimensions…There will be full mobilization, 100% of the police forces of DF, both the Military Police, Civil Police, Fire Department, to ensure the safety not only of the president of the Republic, but of the foreign delegations and the people who will participate in the event,” said the future minister.
With inputs from Brasil de Fato and MST.