Brazil’s newly elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has scrapped plans to sell off eight state-run corporate giants, including the oil company Petroleo Brasileiro, known as Petrobras, Brazilian news website G1 reported on Monday.
Lula was sworn in as Brazil’s president on January 1. He was president also from 2003 through 2010. Imprisoned for false charge of graft in 2018, Lula’s convictions were overturned in 2019, allowing him to defeat Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election.
The decision to remove state corporations from the list of state asset sales was one of the first official acts by the left-wing politician.
Aside from Petrobras, the order includes Pre-Sal Petroleo, the state firm responsible for the supervision and sale of the government’s share of oil and gas from production-sharing contracts, the postal service Correios, and the Empresa Brasil de Comunicacaooperator, which manages the federal government’s broadcast network.
The Brazilian social welfare system’s IT services enterprise Dataprev, state-owned nuclear company Nuclep, IT services corporation Serpro, and the Agriculture Ministry’s National Supply Company are also off the privatization list.
Lula has called for ”ensuring a rigorous analysis of the impacts of privatization on the public service or on the market,” adding that state banks and major oil companies such as Petrobras would play a ”key role” in the new economic cycle.
On Monday, the Sao Paulo stock index shed 3.24%, while Petrobras shares dropped around 6% as Lula’s inauguration speech sparked investor fears of interventionist government policies. The national currency – the real – saw its value slide by 1.5%.
Lula’s predecessor, the far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, led an administration mired in controversies ranging from corruption to environmental devastation. Lula’s own government was brought down by massive corruption in Petrobras, which led to the impeachment of his hand-picked successor in 2016.
Supreme Court Receives Arrest Request For Bolsonaro
On Monday, the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) filed a legal appeal for the Federal Supreme Court (STF) to order the arrest of former president Bolsonaro, who fled to Miami before the inauguration of President Lula da Silva on January 1.
The PSOL petition accuses the far-right leader of having encouraged his followers to carry out violent acts, such as roadblocks and attacks on public buildings and vehicles, which were intended to reject Lula’s electoral victory and promote a coup.
According to the local press, Bolsonaro left Brazil precisely because he feared that any judge would order his arrest in one of the dozens of legal proceedings opened against him during his administration (2019-2023).
The PSOL indicated in its petition that the ex-president is in a position to be arrested because he no longer has the prerogative of jurisdiction. It also asked the Supreme judges to order the lifting of Bolsonaro’s telephone and telematic secrecy so that the Federal Police can review his messages and find evidence before the far-right politician destroys any evidence.
A tweet reads, “Dilma suffered impeachment and persecution and she didn’t flee Brazil! Lula was convicted and didn’t escape; he even went to jail! Bolsonaro didn’t even finish his term and fled Brazil! The difference? While the first two knew they owed nothing, the latter knows he owes everyone!”
Samia Bomfim, the PSOL spokesperson at the Lower House, announced that the petition also requires the Brazilian Justice to confiscate Bolsonaro’s passport to prevent him from leaving Brazil if he returns.
Among other things, the far-right politician has been under investigation in proceedings related to calls for a coup and the closure of Congress and the Supreme Court. “He has to be held accountable for the wrong he did to Brazil,” Bomfim said.
“NO amnesty. This is not about revenge. It’s about complying with the law and doing justice,” PSOL lawmaker Guilhermo Boulos said, referring to the crimes carried out by Bolsonaro and other members of his administration.
Supreme Court Takes Down Bolsonaro’s Secret Budget
On Monday, the Brazilian Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the so-called ‘Secret Budget’ through which right-wing lawmakers have allocated public funds since Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019.
The Court’s decision emerged as a result of complaints according to which the Bolsonaro administration used this parliamentary procedure to attract the support of lawmakers by assigning budget items without respecting technical criteria.
The “Secret Budget” allowed the allocation of large budgetary resources in a way that was difficult to oversee, Supreme Court President Rosa Weber said.
During the trial, the Bolsonaro administration expressed its support for this mechanism, despite the fact that social organizations that defend transparency in governance had stated that the secret budget favored corruption.
A tweet reads, “Corruption in Rio de Janeiro: Claudio Castro, the re-elected governor, is under investigation for corruption. Before Bolsonaro says he does not know him, here is the photo of these two friends.”
While budget preparation is mainly a responsibility of the Executive Power, a part of federal public resources has remained reserved for “parliamentary amendments”, which are raised by lawmakers in a discretionary manner.
In 2019, conservative lawmakers modified the way these items were distributed so that citizens could not track the benefited parliamentarians or the destination of the money.
Since then, Brazilian journalists have been investigating parliamentary amendments in which they found evidence of overpricing and “phantom” purchases.
Mission Will Be To Reintegrate Brazil Into the World: Lula’s FM
“Brazil is back,” the diplomat emphasized in a speech delivered at the Itamaraty Palace, the headquarters of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.
According to the minister, it is necessary to “rebuild the diplomatic heritage” and return the South American giant “to the stage of international relations” since the country was distanced because of “a limiting ideological vision.”
In this sense, Vieira said he was aware that Brazil “has a lot to do to rebuild” its relations abroad, a role former president Jair Bolsonaro paid little importance to.
He also pointed out that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s first instruction was to open the channels of dialogue blocked in recent years, as happened with Venezuela.
“We have no time to lose,” he stressed.
According to the foreign minister, the environment, one of Lula’s primary commitments, will also be central to foreign policy.
“We will only be strong if we act from the broad vision of a country committed to sustainable development,” he said.
He also emphasized human rights and said that Brazil would insist in international forums on the defense of gender equality, the fight against discrimination and the promotion of racial equality.
Strengthening ties between Latin American countries, mainly in forums such as Mercosur, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and Unasur, will also be a priority for Brazilian diplomacy during the current administration.
A career diplomat for nearly 50 years and with extensive experience in foreign trade, Vieira has held the most critical positions in Brazil’s legations abroad: he was ambassador to the U.S. (2010-2015), to Argentina (2004-2010) and permanent representative of Brazil to the UN (2016-2019).
This is the second time that Vieira has assumed as foreign minister after commanding Foreign Relations during the government of Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016)
Mexican President Celebrates Lula’s Inauguration
The Presidency of the Mexico Government, through its official Twitter account, said the Mexican President expressed his joy for the arrival of Lula da Silva to the Brazilian Presidency, highlighting the ties of brotherhood between the two nations that will be strengthened from this moment on.
During his morning press conference, López Obrador said that Lula’s arrival constitutes “the return of a popular project, not an oligarchic one.” The Mexican leader said that despite powerful interests against him, Lula achieved victory, “and he did it with the support of the people of Brazil.”
“President Lula faced a very strong onslaught that led him unjustly to jail and he resisted and got out of jail to return to govern Brazil,” AMLO said.
López Obrador referred to the fact that the former president, Jair Bolsonaro, did not attend Lula’s inauguration. In this sense, he said that the Workers’ Party (PT) leader will face “a belligerent opposition,” which Lula is capable of confronting.
Argentine President Relaunches Ties With Brazil
Argentine President Fernández participated the day before in the inauguration of Lula. He was received by him this morning at the Itamaraty Palace.
We had an excellent meeting. Personally, Lula’s return is a great joy. The people of Brazil gave him the welcoming he deserved. I am happy to be here and to be able to experience it, the Argentine president stated at a press conference.
He said: Institutionally, it was also a great meeting because we decided to restart the bilateral relationship with all the strength it should have. During the last four years, it became more difficult, but now we are both convinced of its importance, he added.
Fernández confirmed that the Brazilian president will make an official visit to his country on the 23rd of this month and will participate on the 24th in the summit of heads of state and government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac).
We hope to be able to advance in everything we talked about today, make decisions and promote with concrete actions the ties that our nations should have, which are inextricably linked. No political moment can disturb that, he said.
We will try to strengthen those ties in the best way. We also talked about the region. We share the desire to unite Latin America in a common space. Celac does that in some way, but it does not have the institutionality it deserves, he added.
Fernández assured all these issues will be addressed in Buenos Aires.
Lula is a regional leader and will give a very important boost to Latin America. His presence in the Government means Brazil’s return to all international forums, he pointed out.
In addition, he reiterated his joy at Lula’s arrival at the Planalto Palace and his satisfaction with the meeting held.
We are both on the same path and looking for the same destinations for our countries and the region. I await you with open arms. He will be received not only by me, but by the Argentine people, with the affection that we all have for him, he affirmed.
Lula and Putin Discuss Strategic Partnership
An earlier report said:
In his official Twitter account, Lula said Putin “congratulated me on the electoral victory, wished a good government and the strengthening of the relationship between our countries.”
According to the Kremlin, “during the telephone conversation with President-elect of the Federative Republic of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Putin congratulated him on the victory in the elections and wished him success in his state functions.”
The Kremlin said that both sides were willing to further strengthen the Brazil-Russia strategic partnership. Lula and Putin expressed their confidence in consolidating “cooperation on the international scene, including within the framework of the BRICS group.”
The leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) said that “Brazil is back, seeking dialogue with everyone and committed to the search for a world without hunger and with peace.”
A tweet said: Today I spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who congratulated me on the electoral victory, wished a good government and the strengthening of the relationship between our countries. Brazil has returned, seeking dialogue with everyone and committed to the search for a world without hunger and with peace.