Brazil officially has its first woman president.
Dilma Rousseff took the oath of office Saturday during a ceremony in the capital of Brasilia, taking over from her highly popular political mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known to many as “Lula.”
Ms. Rousseff served as his chief of staff for five years and, in her first speech to Congress, she promised to continue many of the former president’s economic and social welfare programs.
Under Mr. da Silva, Brazil emerged as one of the world’s major economies, along with Russia, India and China. It is estimated that 30 million people joined the middle class during his eight-year presidency.
Experts say President Rousseff will face many challenges, including how to address high government spending and a recent drop in Brazilian exports.
Ms. Rousseff has said Brazil should not rest as long as problems like homelessness, hunger and drugs continue to afflict the country.
She also has said she will press for better trade agreements with foreign partners and work to resolve a currency imbalance that is hurting some Brazilian industries.
Ms. Rousseff is a former guerrilla leader whose road to the presidency has been untraditional. The daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant, Rousseff joined a leftist guerrilla group in the 1960s that resisted Brazil’s military dictatorship of that era.
She was imprisoned for three years, during which she said she was tortured with electric shocks. Upon her release from prison in the early 1970s, she continued her political path and eventually joined Mr. da Silva’s Worker’s Party.