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by Cathy Dos Santos

Brazil, Year 1 of the Bolsonaro Regime

Jair Bolsonaro will be inaugurated tomorrow. His far-right program promises to be authoritarian and ultraliberal, guided by nostalgia for the dictatorship.

Translated Friday 18 January 2019, by Alec Shea

In Brazil, January 1st will not only mark the beginning of another year, but Year 1 of a new retrograde, regressive, and authoritarian regime. Tomorrow, Jair Bolsonaro will be officially inaugurated as the President of the large Latin-American nation. His election on October 28th, with 55% of the vote ended a violent and dirty campaign. "Never in the history of our Republic have we had an extreme right-wing President. Homophobic, misogynistic ... threatening Indian reserves, promoting the private ownership of guns ... the President-Elect has shown himself to be ignorant of the main national and global problems. He has a barrack mentality, frozen in the period of the military dictatorship, to the point that he calls a famous torturer, Brilhante Ustra, a hero." So summarizes the Brazilian Theologian Leonardo Boff.

The Communist Party of Brazil Will not Participate in the Ceremony

Members of Parliament from the Worker’s Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and the Party for Socialism and Liberty (PSOL), will not participate in the inauguration ceremony at the National Congress in Brasilia. A symbolic gesture, certainly, but one without precedent. "We respect our historic engagement with the peoples’ vote, but this does not prevent us from denouncing an electoral process characterized by impeachment (the parliamentary coup d’état against left-wing President Dilma Rousseff in 2016), the illegal prohibition of the ex-president’s candidacy and the criminal manipulation of social media to spread lies against our candidate" the PT said in a statement. The president of the PCdoB, Luciana Santos elaborated that his party had not received an official invitation, demonstrating the treatment given to the opposition.

While Bolsonaro, a former Army Captain, wraps himself in the two-colored sash, PT elected officials will appear in Curtiba at the gates of the prison holding former President Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva, unjustly jailed on April 7th on the orders of Sergio Moro, who condemned him without proof in order to alter the course of the election, which he would have won. The prosecutor will himself be in the front row during the ceremony as the incoming Minister of Justice and Public Minister of the Federal Police. A promotion for good and loyal service. At Moro’s side will be the 21 other future ministers in the Bolsonarist government including 7 military officers, who will make Bolsonaro’s the most militarized government since the restoration of democracy in Brazil. General Augusto Heleno was considered for the position of Minister of Defense. Ultimately, reserve General Fernando Zevedo e Silva, was chosen to be President of the Institutional Security Cabinet with the intelligence service in his hands.

Influential evangelical churches will also be repaid for their support. Damares Alves will control the Ministry of Women, Families and Human Rights. Alves, a lawyer and Baptist Pastor is a fervent supporter of the criminalization of abortion. Responsibility for education, a vital question during the campaign, which Bolsonaro aims to "dis-indoctrinate," will be given to Ricardo Vélez Rodriguez, known for his conservative values and his pronouncements against liberation theology. On the economic front, the ultraliberal turn, initiated by the putchist government two years ago has been further entrenched.

Among the Reforms, the End of More Rights for Workers

"This will be a government directed by businessmen aimed at the reduction of the ’Brazilian cost,’ which is to say in favor of the increase of private profits" explain João Pedro Stédile. director of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and João Marcio, Professor at the Federal Rural University in Rio de Janeiro. In a recent joint statement, they detail the coming reforms. "The brutal reductions of the ’compensation costs’ of the workforce (which is to say the reduction of the minimum wage, the end of several rights for workers, combined with the deterioration of working conditions); the private appropriation of all possible natural resources, bypassing the rights of traditional populations and environmental concerns; the privatization of 149 public companies and the social security system through the introduction of a private pension scheme; the scrapping of the public education system and the privatization of large sectors of the educational system through the systematic reduction of resources allocated to schools and universities; the privatization of the health system (through under-funding of the public health system); the privatization of the public banking system" were listed by the authors.

The socio-economic war will be waged by Paolo Guedes, trained at the University of Chicago, who will take control of a super-ministry for the economy. The Central Bank will be placed in the hands of Roberto Campos Neto, grandson of Roberto Campos, who was one of the liberal eminences of the dictatorship. "Jair Bolsonaro has chosen ministers from the wrong side of history, deniers of global warming," according to Leonardo Boff "He has aligned himself with the policies of President Trump by entering into conflicts with historical allies." In leaving the keys to the Foreign Ministry to Ernesto Araújo, a zealous admirer of the American President, there is a fear that multilateralism, which has long characterized Brazilian diplomacy, will soon be nothing more than a memory.

Breaking with the tradition of inviting all Latin-American heads of state to the ceremony, the Presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have been declared *persona non grata*. Donald Trump will be represented by his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hopes that the new inhabitant of the Planalto presidential palace will imitate his American mentor in transferring the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem will join in the rejoicing. Also present will be the reactionary Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

During the ceremony, no one will raise the economic crisis, violence or the racist and homophobic diatribes Bolsonaro makes habitually - much less corruption, which he was very eager to discuss during the campaign. Nine of his ministers have already found themselves in trouble with the law, starting with Paolo Guedes and Onyx Lorenzoni, who holds a position equivalent to Prime Minister. We could also mention his son Flavio Bolsonaro’s woes. He has been implicated in suspicious financial transactions. His former driver and security guard has never fully described the origin of the 271,000 Euros he amassed between 2016 and 2017. Even less is known about certain payments to the account of Michelle Bolsonaro, the incoming President’s wife.

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