A freedom fighter who was tortured by her country’s dictatorship has become the first female president of Brazil.
Thousands of people lined the streets of the capital, Brasilia, despite heavy rains to cheer Dilma Rousseff as she made her way to her historical inauguration ceremony Saturday in a Rolls Royce, flanked by an all-female security team.
The 63-year-old Ms. Rousseff said her presidency marks the beginning of “a new era.” She vowed to “honor women” and “protect the most fragile,” but said she will “govern for all.”
The new Brazilian head of state – the daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant – 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.
President Rousseff inherits the presidency from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her political mentor who used his enormous popularity to help propel her to Brazil’s highest office.
Upon Ms. Rousseff’s release from prison in the early 1970s, she continued her political path and eventually joined Mr. da Silva’s Worker’s Party.
He hands over a nation on the rise. Under his leadership, Brazil emerged as one of the world’s major economies. It is estimated that 30 million people joined the middle class during his 8-year presidency.
During her speech Saturday, Ms. Rousseff promised to continue Mr. da Silva’s legacy, while also working to reform Brazil’s complex tax system and address other challenges.
Ms. Rousseff will lead Brazil as the country prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016.