Wearing the green-and-gold presidential sash, newly-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff...

Wearing the green-and-gold presidential sash, newly-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Vice President Michel Temer walk together during the inauguration ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil. (Jan. 1, 2011) Credit: AP

Former Marxist guerilla Dilma Rousseff became Brazil’s first female president Saturday, vowing to use expanding oil wealth to end poverty in Latin America’s biggest economy without overspending.

Under rainy skies that prevented her from riding in an open car, Rousseff, 63, drove to a joint session of Brazil’s congress to take over from her mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who leaves office as the most popular politician in Brazilian history after overseeing economic growth last year that was the fastest since the mid-1980s.

“The best homage to President Lula is to expand and advance the achievements of his government,” Rousseff said in her inaugural address. “Under his leadership, the Brazilian people crossed over to a new frontier of our history. My mission is to consolidate this journey and move further down the road toward a nation that generates the greatest opportunities.”

Rousseff was near tears when she recalled her three years in jail under the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964-1985.

She emphasized that only economic growth can generate the jobs necessary for coming generations and allow the country to overcome income inequality. Her government, she pledged, will not allow the “plague” of inflation to return.


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