Brazil's Lula vows to defeat 'fanatical far right'

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spoke on Thursday of his desire to defeat the "new monster" that is the "fanatical far right," not just in his country but throughout the whole world.

Leftist former trade unionist Lula took over at the beginning of this month from far right former president Jair Bolsonaro after defeating his bitter rival in last October's election.

At 77, Lula is now serving his third term as president having previously led Latin America's largest economy from 2003-10.

"We have to challenge and defeat the new monster that is the emergence of a fanatical, rabid far right that hates all of those that don't share their thoughts," Lula told university rectors at the presidential palace in Brasilia.

Lula said this was "not only a Brazilian problem" but said he had never before seen the country "gripped by so much hate."

He compared populist ex-leader Bolsonaro's impact on the country to that of former US president Donald Trump -- Bolsonaro was often branded the 'Tropical Trump' -- or the right wing leadership in Hungary and Italy.

"Although we have defeated Bolsonaro, we must still defeat hate, lies, disinformation, fanatics, because this society needs to return to being civilized."

On January 8, a week after Lula's return to office, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the seats of power in Brasilia, occupying the presidential palace, Congress and the supreme court, vandalizing facades and smashing up offices.

Since then around 2,000 people have been arrested, while almost 1,400 remain detained.

In an interview with Globo News television channel, Lula pointed the finger at Bolsonaro over the chaos.

He said Bolsonaro's initial silence on the matter and his decision to fly to Miami just before it happened suggested that "he knew what would happen, and he had a lot to do with that."

"Maybe Bolsonaro hoped to return to Brazil amidst the glory of a coup d'etat."

On Wednesday night, Lula said he would welcome German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on January 30 and would meet with US President Joe Biden in February to discuss a common approach to the far right.