By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff was sworn in on Thursday, January 1st, for a second term in office promising to make education her administration’s number one priority during the next four years. Among the foreign dignitaries at hand were the presidents of Uruguay (Jose Mujica), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) and Chile (Michelle Bachelet), the United States Vice-President Joe Biden as well as Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao.
“By naming Brazil ‘the country of education’ we are stating that education will be the priority of all priorities,” she said during her inauguration speech in Brasília, adding that the education sector will begin to receive ‘more significant’ volumes of revenues from petroleum royalties and the exploration of the sub-salt layer.
As Rousseff enters her second term, Brazil’s economy is facing one its worst moments in decades, with nearly zero economic growth and increasing inflation.
“More than anyone, I know that Brazil needs to once again grow,” said the President, adding that the first steps of this journey would necessarily mean an adjustment in public accounts and an increase in domestic savings. Yet Rousseff noted her administration will not tolerate high inflation and would once again defeat the false thesis that there is a conflict between economic stability and social investments.
In November the former left-wing militant stunned the financial sector by appointing bank executive Joaquim Levy to head the Finance Ministry. The move pleased international markets and investors alike, but was criticized by the more radical wing of the President’s PT (Workers Party).
During her inaugural speech Rousseff said that although the country’s economy has been a cause of concern there have been many accomplishments during the last four years. “Brazil today is the seventh economy in the world, the second largest producer and exporter of agricultural goods, the third largest exporter of minerals, the fifth country to attract foreign investment, the seventh in foreign exchange reserves, and the third in number of Internet users,” she stated.
The administration has also been tarnished in the past year by the widespread corruption scandal at one of the Brazil’s most prestigious companies, state-controlled oil giant, Petrobras. Speaking to members of Congress and foreign dignitaries Rousseff mentioned the scandal.
“We have many reasons to preserve and defend Petrobras from domestic predators and its foreign enemies. We will investigate every wrongdoing and strengthen (the company) even more. We should be able to investigate without weakening Petrobras,” said Rousseff.
The President also proposed a national pact against all types of corruption, stating that her administration has been one of the strongest supporters of anti-corruption laws. Rousseff said that her office would submit an anti-corruption bill to Congress.
After her inauguration speech, Rousseff swore in the 39 ministers who will make up her cabinet for her second term. Across Brazil 27 re-elected and new governors were also sworn in their respective states.