Hardships are Bolsonaro’s legacy to Brazil, Lula says

Brasilia, Dec 22 (EFE).- Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said here Thursday that he will be taking charge of a country “in a situation of hardships” after four years of rule by the far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

“I am not trying to create fireworks with that material,” the founder of the center-left Workers Party (PT) said in Brasilia during the presentation of a report prepared by his transition team.

Beyond serving as guidance for the administration that will take office Jan. 1, the document will allow “Brazilian society” to know the reality of the country in the wake of Bolsonaro’s “fascist storm,” he said.

Lula, who sharply reduced poverty and hunger in Brazil during his 2003-2011 tenure as president, narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff at the end of October

“The Brazil that Lula will receive is much more difficult” with “regression in all areas,” Vice President-elect Geraldo Alckmin said at Thursday’s press conference.

Half of Brazil’s children have not received the full course of polio immunization, 14,000 public works projects remain unfinished and construction of affordable housing has ground to a halt, Alckmin said.

Turning to the environment, an area where Bolsonaro’s policies drew international condemnation, the future vice president said that the outgoing head of state presided over “a 59 percent increase in deforestation in Amazonia.”

“There has been a dismantling of the Brazilian state” and the new government will face “a Herculean task,” Alckmin said.

Both Lula and Alckmin thanked Congress for approving a constitutional amendment that will exempt the new administration’s spending on measures to help the poorest of the poor from the draconian fiscal limits instituted in 2016 following the legally dubious congressional ouster of PT President Dilma Rousseff.

The exemption is needed “to cover the irresponsibility of the government that is leaving,” Lula said, calling lawmakers’ support for lifting the cap “a demonstration of solidarity with this country’s poorest people.”

After presenting the report, the president-elect introduced 16 additional senior members of the future government weeks after naming the incoming ministers of finance, defense and foreign affairs.

To head the Ministry of Racial Equality, Lula chose human rights activist Anielle Franco, sister of the late Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was assassinated in March 2018 by gunmen with links to organized crime and right-wing militias.

A prominent Afro-Brazilian attorney, Silvio Almeida, will be minister of human rights, while Cida Goncalves, who headed the federal office of gender violence under Lula and Rousseff, is to be minister of women’s affairs.

Nisia Trindade, president of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) – Latin America’s leading medical research center – will make history as Brazil’s first woman health minister.

Fiocruz has played a key role in Brazil’s response to Covid-19, a response hampered by the outspoken pandemic denialism of Bolsonaro.

Alongside his duties as vice president, Alckmin will manage the Industry and Foreign Trade portfolio, Lula said, revealing that he sought to fill the post with a business leader but found nobody willing to accept. EFE


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