Brazil 2019

Written by  //  February 21, 2019  //  Brazil  //  No comments

Brazil 2016-18

Simon Baptist: The first test for Bolsonaro
(The Economist) One of the most notable election results of 2018 was the victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election. Although his popularity was mostly on the back of a tough stance on law and order, he did articulate a reformist economic policy that was welcomed by international investors (although his subsequent speech at Davos disappointed many of them). I am more sceptical than the markets about whether he will manage to deliver on his promises: he lacks a majority in Congress for passing unpopular reforms, and his first couple of months in office have been marked mostly by confusion, miscommunication, infighting and scandal, which doesn’t bode well for governability or reform prospects.
A key test is about to come from proposed pension reforms, which are required if the country is to avoid a debt-sustainability crisis. The reforms do not currently have enough support to pass, but there will be a few months of debate, negotiation and amendment before a final vote. If this is successful, then it could be the start of a positive chain of events where other important policy areas are also addressed, and the optimism that surrounded Brazil a decade ago could return. If not, Bolsonaro is likely to revert to a relaxation of gun laws or a rollback of LGBT rights in order to appease his supporters.

15 January
Brazil’s Bolsonaro signs decree loosening gun ownership rules
President said the decree had been drafted ‘so that good citizens can have peace inside their homes’
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has signed a decree making it easier for citizens to keep a firearm at home in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates and a record 63,880 intentional violent deaths a year.

1 January
Brazil’s controversial new president embraced by Trump administration

Bolsonaro declares Brazil’s ‘liberation from socialism’ as he is sworn in
Far-right populist invited lawmakers to help country free itself from ‘ideological submission’ in speech
(The Guardian) Jair Bolsonaro has announced Brazil’s “liberation from socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness” after being sworn in as the country’s 42nd president.
His words delighted a crowd of more than 100,000 – many of whom had travelled to its modernist capital for the event, convinced the far-right populist can rescue their troubled country from virulent corruption, rising violent crime and economic doldrums.
“We have a unique opportunity before us to reconstruct our country and rescue the hope of our compatriots,” he said. “We are going to unite the people, rescue the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat genre ideology, conserving our values.”
He also referred to campaign promises such as freeing up gun possession. “Good citizens deserve the means to defend themselves,” he said. Bolsonaro said he was counting on Congress support to provide “legal support” for police to do their work; he has promised impunity for police who kill criminals. “They deserve it and must be respected,” he said.
Bolsonaro has enjoyed the support of Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, which he said will have an “increase in efficiency” with “less bureaucracy” – words which will alarm environmentalists and indigenous activists concerned by his plans to reduce to streamline environmental licensing and allow commercial mining and farming on protected indigenous reserves.
These fears seem justified, in one of his first acts as president, just hours after being sworn in, Bolsonaro took the power to identify and demarcate indigenous reserves from the National Indian Foundation (Funai), giving it to the Ministry of Agriculture, according to local media reports.
Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration: the day progressive Brazil has dreaded
Brazil’s new president will feel emboldened to roll back rainforest protections and legitimise police’s use of deadly force
Perhaps no area faces a greater shake-up than the environment. To the horror of the environmentalists he so loathes, Bolsonaro has repeatedly signalled a desire to roll back environmental protections and make it easier to destroy the world’s biggest rainforest. Deeds have accompanied those words.
Since his stunning election, Bolsonaro has ditched plans to host key UN climate talks next year and appointed a foreign minister who believes climate change is a Marxist plot. As president, he looks set to take a sledgehammer to Brazil’s hard-earned reputation as a global leader in the fight against climate change and herald a new era of wrecking in the Amazon.
Foreign policy will also be upended, as Bolsonaro’s Brazil seeks a snug and historic allegiance with Donald Trump’s US and jettisons longstanding friendships with nations ruled by leftists, such as Cuba and Venezuela. “Everything we can legally and democratically do against these countries, we will do,” Bolsonaro recently vowed.

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