As the Brazilian president Lula da Silva settled in his first day in office in the Planalto Palace, Latin American leaders met with the inaugurated president, who faced his first financial challenge, stocks had fallen more than 3%, led by a selloff of shares in state-run oil company Petrobras.
With Lula keen on prioritizing social issues and a decision to extend a fuel tax exemption, which will deprive the Treasury of 52.9 billion reals (US$ 9.9 billion) a year in fiscal income, Brazil's Finance Minister Fernando Haddad attempted to dispel market fears that he might not maintain fiscal discipline. We are not here for adventures, he said.
President Lula has said his priorities are fighting poverty, as well as investing in education and health. He has also said he will bring illegal deforestation of the Amazon to an end. As he saw off his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, in a tensely fought election Lula sought support from political moderates to form a broad front, then tapped some of them to serve in his Cabinet.
In the first half of the day on Monday, Lula met with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, Bolivia's Luis Arce and Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador. Later on Monday he embraced Chile's Gabriel Boric and Colombia's Gustavo Petro. Uruguay turned up with three presidents from different political parties in a show of national unity. They included Julio Maria Sanguinetti from the Colorado party, Jose Mujica from the Broad Front and the current president Luis Pou Lacalle, from the National Party.
On Monday afternoon, Lula met with Wang Qishan, the vice president of China, by far Brazil's biggest trade partner.
The United States delegation to the inauguration is headed by Deb Haaland, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, plus Douglas A. Koneff, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Embassy Brasília and Juan Gonzalez, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council.
However Lula and members of his administration were visited in early December in Brasilia by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and officials from the National Security Council and State Department.
The presidential office also reported that Lula da Silva will attend Pele's wake on Tuesday in Santos, as Brazil mourned the late football legend, who died last week.
Lula, who took office on Sunday, ”will pay his respects and tribute to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, 'Pele,' and his condolences to his family on Tuesday at 9:00 am (1200 GMT),” his office said in a statement.
The coffin of the three-time World Cup winner has been placed in the center circle of the Santos FC stadium, where he played for most of his career, located in the Vila Belmiro neighborhood of Santos, Sao Paulo. As well as Lula, thousands of fans are expected to walk past and show their respect.
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