Brazil’s Lula announces ministry of indigenous affairs

Brasilia, Dec 29 (EFE).- President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fulfilled a campaign promise Thursday with the designation of Brazil’s first-ever indigenous affairs minister.

“We have a Cabinet. Now we must begin to work,” he said during a press conference in Brasilia where he named the last 16 of the 37 ministers who will take office with him on Jan. 1.

“The Brazilian people cannot wait any longer” after “the misrule to which they have been subjected in these years,” Lula said, referring to the tenure of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

To head the new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, the 77-year-old former union leader selected Sonia Guajajara, one of the most prominent advocates on behalf of Brazil’s original inhabitants.

Indigenous communities in Amazonia have suffered badly under the Bolsonaro administration, whose support for mining and agri-business interests has spurred deforestation and undermined the territorial integrity of indigenous reserves.

“Never before in the history of this country did we have a indigenous woman minister,” Lula said as he introduced Guajajara.

Another noteworthy appointment announced Thursday was that of Marina Silva as environment minister, marking the veteran environmentalist’s return to a position she held for five years during Lula’s previous 2003-2011 tenure as president.

Silva left less than half-way through Lula’s second term over policy disagreements, but agreed to join his new government in view of the magnitude of environmental devastation wrought by Bolsonaro.

The founder and leader of the leftist Workers Party tapped Simone Tebet, who carried the banner of the center-right MDB in the first round of the presidential election in October, for the job of planning minister.

Tebet, who joined Lula’s campaign team for the runoff against Bolsonaro, will be one of several representatives of the center and center-right in the Cabinet, chosen with an eye toward making it easier for the government to work with the conservative majority in Congress. EFE


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