Brazil's Bolsonaro to take power amid high hopes and fears

Jair Bolsonaro was elected Brazil's president on promises to overhaul many aspects of Latin America's largest nation, from changing its global alliances to cracking down on endemic corruption and street crime.

"I call on all congressmen to help me rescue Brazil from corruption, criminality and ideological submission", he said, earning a congratulatory message from Trump.

But his right-wing politics have made others in Brazil nervous.

But many citizens blame the Workers' Party for a devastating recession from which Brazil is only now emerging.

Under tight security and with much ceremony, Bolsonaro took office Tuesday in the country's capital city, Brasilia; in the streets, firefighters misted enthusiastic crowds with water as they cheered on their new president. Whether Brazil, which has the largest chunk of the Amazon basin in South America, formally stays in the accord may be all but irrelevant: Scientists say the country won't meet its targets on emissions reductions if Bolsonaro does what he has promised. Bolsonaro and his wife, Michelle, stood up in an open-top Rolls-Royce and waved to thousands of onlookers.

Bolsonaro has said he wants closer ties with the United States and Israel, breaking with decades of center-left policies which sought to position Brazil as a Latin American power nurturing relations with all countries.

Bolsonaro is an ardent supporter of the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 and is the most conservative ruler to come to power in the region in decades.

The new president, who spent almost three decades in Congress, has also drawn worldwide criticism for his plans to roll back regulations in the Amazon and his disinterest in social programs in a country that is one of the world's most unequal in terms of income. He has courted US President Donald Trump, a politician he admires and emulates. Incoming President Jair Bolsonaro said last month that he intends to move the embassy, prompting threats by Arab states to boycott Brazilian goods.

The issue of the embassy has been hovering over Netanyahu's visit to Brazil, as Bolsonaro appeared to remain mum on the matter in the leaders first meeting on Friday.

But amid a backdrop of economic crisis, rising violence and corruption scandals that stained all of Brazil's main political parties, Bolsonaro cultivated an image as the outsider candidate and swept to victory in an election fuelled by anti-establishment sentiment.

Though Bolsonaro promised after the election to be a leader to all of Brazil's 200 million people, on the eve of the inauguration, he tweeted a vow to rid Brazilian schools of "Marxist trash", slipping back into the divisive rhetoric that got him elected.


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