Brazil’s Lula begins to assemble Cabinet

Brasilia, Dec 9 (EFE).- President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presented here Friday five individuals who will be among the people he relies on when he starts a third term as Brazil’s head of state on Jan. 1.

For the post of finance minister, he turned to long-time friend and political ally Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo who served as head of the Education Ministry during Lula’s 2003-2011 presidential administration.

In 2018, with Lula behind bars on a since-overturned conviction for corruption, Haddad was the center-left Workers Party (PT) candidate for president, losing the runoff to rightist Jair Bolsonaro.

Jose Mucio Monteiro, a former head of the Federal Audit Court who also served in Lula’s previous government, is to lead the Defense Ministry.

The man who will become Brazil’s first civilian defense minister since 2018 enjoys good relations with the military.

Career diplomat Mauro Vieira, currently Brazil’s ambassador to Croatia, is Lula’s choice for foreign minister, a position he held in 2015-2016 in the PT administration of Dilma Rousseff.

Sen. Flavio Dino, the former governor of Maranhao state, was named justice minister, and Lula chose a PT co-founder, Bahia Gov. Rui Costa, to serve as his chief of staff.

All five of the appointees introduced Friday are men and all but one of them are white.

Lula, who had promised to assemble a diverse administration, sought to pre-empt questions from reporters at the press conference in Brasilia by reiterating that the new government will be representative.

“We will have Blacks, Indians,” the 76-year-old president-elect said. “We will attempt to put together a government that is the face of Brazilian society in all its dimensions.”

More appointments are likely to be announced next week, Lula said, adding that before year’s end, he and his team will issue a report documenting the mess they are inheriting from Bolsonaro.

“It was a government that did not prepare the management of this country, that preferred to talk and talk and talk and did not succeed in resolving the problems that needed solved,” Lula said of the outgoing administration. EFE mat/dr

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