By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While most Brazilians make plans for New Year’s Eve and Day, a select group of people are working around the clock to assure that the inauguration of President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, on January 1st, runs smoothly and without incidence.
Additional security measures have been taken to guarantee Bolsonaro’s safety since the attempt on his life in early October.
“We have never had a president who, during the campaign, has suffered an assassination attempt. This never happened. This suggests, for those who are responsible for their safety, caution,” Minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI), General Sérgio Etchegoyen, told reporters this week.
The Planalto Palace estimates that Bolsonaro’s inauguration will attract between 250,000 and 500,000 people to the Esplanada dos Ministérios (Ministry Mall). Pedestrian access will be made exclusively by bus, and in the Mall there will be four security points.
According to General Etchegoyen, it has yet not been decided whether Bolsonaro will parade in an open car. “It [the decision] will depend on the circumstances.”
Bolsonaro’s security has been a major concern for the president-elect’s team since he stabbed at a campaign rally on September 6th in Juiz de Fora (state of Minas Gerais) less than a month before the first round of elections.
And despite the unfavorable day for inauguration, several foreign delegations have already accepted the invitation.
Presidents from neighboring countries such as Maurício Macri (Argentina), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Mario Abdo Benítez (Paraguay), Tabaré Vázquez (Uruguay), Iván Duque Márquez (Colombia) and Marín Vizcarra (Peru) have already confirmed their presence.
Also expected to attend are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it would send deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Assembly (Parliament), Ji Bingxuan as its representative.
The list of those not coming, however, is what has made headlines in the last few days. Last week, spokesperson for Bolsonaro said that leaders from both Venezuela and Cuba were not invited to the inauguration. A few days later, future foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, announced that Nicaragua’s president was also not invited.
According to the new administration those who do not ‘practice democracy’ in their country will not participate in Brazil’s ‘changing of the guard’.
In all, the expectation is that approximately sixty foreign delegations will attend the inauguration.