Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro greets when he arrives at a meeting at the Secretary of Security and Coordination of the Presidential Office in Brasilia on Thursday. | REUTERS

Jair Bolsonaro "seems to want" to erase progressive achievements of Brazil's past, warn NGOs

The new government of Brazil's far-right president Jair Bolsonaro debuted on his first day of work on Thursday, rushing the changes to put a conservative mark on the country, destroying the progressive achievements of past administrations.

The rapid reformulation of Brazilian policy spoke of Bolsonaro's desire to reform Latin America's largest economy while in its initial honeymoon phase before fractures broke out in his atypical cabinet or legislative alliances.

He also echoed the changes that President Donald Trump brought to US policy. Bolsonaro, sometimes called "the trump card of the tropics," is an avowed admirer of the American leader and wants Brazil and America to form an axis through the Western Hemisphere.

The measures approved so far have been by temporary decree, awaiting approval of the new Congress that will start its new session next month.

Among them, the FUNAI indigenous affairs agency stands out for the power to define native lands.

Bolsonaro tweeted that less than one million people in the Brazilian population of 210 million lived in separate territories for indigenous and slave descendants. "Together we will integrate these citizens," he said.

He also removed LGBT issues from the mandate of the human rights ministry.

An active LGBT lawyer, Juliana Maggi, told AFP the measure was "an affront," although she added that constitutional changes would be needed to topple the rights of homosexuals to recognized partnerships and the family.

Bolsonaro also instructed the government secretariat to monitor international and nongovernmental organizations in Brazil.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that it showed a misunderstanding of the "independent role these entities play in an open and democratic society."

Bolsonaro is also removing fishing from the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment.

Other areas that Bolsonaro said he wanted to solve is to remove the "Marxist garbage" from educational curricula and put Brazil on a collision course in Latin America with the leftist regimes of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

In terms of the economy, which is still fragile after emerging from a record recession two years ago, Bolsonaro handed over much of the control to his economy minister, Paulo Guedes, a free-market advocate trained by the United States.

On Wednesday, Guedes reaffirmed his determination to cut public spending and Brazil's debt, with the reform of the unsustainable social security system as a priority.

Bolsonaro said on Thursday he hopes to allow the private sector of railways, airports and ports to "swiftly" bring about $ 1,8 billion in investments and boost infrastructure.

An economist, Victor Cândido of Guide Investments in Sao Paulo told AFP that the initial market boom reflects hopes that Bolsonaro and Guedes would simplify bureaucracy and increase productivity.

"The market feels not only that there will be many privatizations, but also that the climate as a whole will be better, that the climate will be positive for all companies in general," he said.

But Candido warned that optimism will only be valid if Congress confirms Bolsonaro's measures, but so far "this government has the impetus."

Source: Japan Times

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