Brazil’s recently-elected president Jair Bolsonaro offered his first interview Monday revealing more of what his policies will be. In the interview with Record TV, he confirmed members of his cabinet, his opinions on relaxing regulations for bearing arms, and on minorities like Indigenous, Afro-Brazilians, LGBTIQ, and women who he has targeted throughout his 28-year-long political life.
The four men he confirmed are “Chicago Boy” Paulo Guedes for the Ministry of the Economy, Onyx Lorenzoni, who will be Chief of Staff, General Heleno Ribeiro who will head the Defense Ministry, and Marco Pontes will lead the Science and Technology Ministry.
Guedes is a 69-year-old neoliberal economist from the University of Chicago who is an avid supporter of privatization as a way to reduce public debt and the national deficit. Guedes is also preparing an economic team that would include Alexandre Bettamio, representative of the United States-based Bank of America in Latin America.
Lorenzoni, a legislator for the Democrats (DEM) party, has confessed to having received 100,000 Brazilian reals (around US$27,100) from Brazilian businessmen and has been summoned in the ongoing Odebrecht corruption investigations.
General Ribeiro was also Bolsanaro’s former instructor at the military academy. His confirmation is particularly worrisome because he embraces the militarization of Brazil’s internal security, which has particularly affected communities in Brazil’s impoverished favelas, where many have been killed by military police.
In the first six months of the intervention, ordered by un-elected President Michel Temer in early 2018, the Intervention Observatory registered a record 6,000 shoot-outs and a 38 percent increase in police-related deaths. This March alone, state security forces killed seven people in a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Temer was the first head of state to appoint a military person to the Defense Ministry since the return to democracy.
Pontes is a 55-year-old combat pilot whose main encounter with science was his participation in a 2006 mission that took him to the International Space Station where he stayed for a week.
Bolsonaro also said he wants to appoint judge Sergio Moro, who ordered the controversial imprisonment of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) and favored candidate for the 2018 presidential elections, to the Supreme Federal Court (the country’s highest court) or the Justice Ministry.
On social movements, Bolsonaro said he will not hold dialogues with “criminal organizations” like the Landless Rural Workers (MST) and the Homeless Workers Movement, which he labeled terrorists, warning “private property is sacred.” On the eve of Sunday’s elections, an MST camp was set on fire by Bolsonaro supporters.
Brazil’s new president also said he would govern for all Brazilians, and that no one will have special treatment or protections in a reference to affirmative action programs put in place by former PT governments to undue Brazil’s historic and racialized inequality.
Bolsonaro also defended his vice-president, General Hamilton Mourao, who has stirred controversy for authoritarian comments, and assured he will be an adviser in his government.
Finally, Bolsonaro confirmed that the revision of the disarmament statute is a priority. The newly-elected president believes that easier access to weapons will help reduce the levels of violence in the country.