Brazil Swears in Far-right Leader Jair Bolsonaro as President
Jair Bolsonaro sworn-in as Brazil's new president (Photo: Twitter)

Brazil swore in its new president, leader of far-right political group, Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday. Bolsonaro won the general elections in October 2018, defeating Fernando Haddad of the centre-left Workers' Party by a comfortable margin in the second-round runoff.

Jair Bolsonaro used his inaugural speech to promise to build a "society without discrimination or division". He also said he wanted a "national pact" to free Brazil of corruption, crime and economic mismanagement. Targeting the left, he vowed to free Brazil of "ideology".

Bolsonaro’s inauguration was attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

However, Bolsonaro is a deeply divisive figure in Latin America’s largest economy. In the past he has made multiple racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks that have alienated Brazil’s minorities.

Human rights experts, political rivals and environmentalists have expressed grave concern over Bolsonaro's promises to give police "carte blanche" to kill suspects, "cleanse" the country of left-wing "outlaws" and open up the country's vast Amazon region to mining interests.

In his inaugural speech, Bolsonaro tried to move away from his divisive rhetoric and pledged to unite all Brazilians. He used his speech to reiterate his election campaign  promises, saying he was "committed to those Brazilians who want good schools to prepare their kids for the job market and not for political militancy".

He also pledging support for the country’s military and police, "The national motto is order and progress. No society can develop without respecting these."

On the economy, he promised to "create a new virtuous cycle to open markets" and "carry out important structural reforms" to tackle the public deficit.

In an apparent reference to gun control, he said: "Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves."

However, Brazil’s complicated political system and entrenched corruption will prove to be formidable hurdles for the leader who has swept into power on the promise of change.