By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, completed a month in office, after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was suspended while the country’s senate votes on her impeachment process. With many ideas on how to bring Brazil out of one of its worst economic and political crises, Temer, has yet to implement any change.
During the first week in office, the Temer administration said its number one priority would be to reduce the public deficit and bring back investor confidence. The president then announced plans to extinguish thousands of federal jobs, reduce the number of ministries, and change Brazil’s foreign policy, all while maintaining social programs and benefits.
“It is essential to rebuild the credibility of the country abroad so as to attract new investments and get the economy growing again,” said the 75-year-old politician as he gave his first speech as President.
His plans of trying to restore economic credibility, including the nomination of Former Central Bank President and market-friendly economist, Henrique Meirelles, as the country’s Finance Minister and chief economist for Itau Bank Ilan Goldfajn, as Central Bank President were overshadowed by the resignation of two other important cabinet members, weeks after being appointed.
Planning Minister, Romero Jucá was forced to step down on May 23rd, a little over a week after taking office, after recordings showed him allegedly telling a colleague that impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff were necessary so as to limit investigations on the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scheme.
Transparency minister, Fabiano Silveira, resigned a week later, after recorded conversations showed him criticizing the Lava Jato (Carwash) investigations and giving advice to those being investigated. Silveira was dubbed by many in the government as Temer’s anti-corruption minister.
In addition, the plans of doing away with some of the ministries were not as easy as the new administration might have thought. The downgrade of the Culture Ministry to a department within the Education Ministry received heavy criticism from Brazilian artists and intellectuals, and Temer was pressured into reinstating the ministry. Now Brazilian scientists are protesting the merging of the Science and Technology Ministry with that of Telecommunications.
While Temer, during his first speech as president, promised to ‘maintain and improve social programs which were successful’, including the Minha Casa Minha Vida, one of the PT (Workers’ Party) main flagship programs, the new Cities Minister, Bruno Araujo, revoked a government order that would allow state-run bank, Caixa Economica, to authorize the construction of up to 11,000 new housing units under the housing program. The order had been signed by the Rousseff administration only days before President Rousseff was suspended from office.
In the foreign policy front, Brazil’s new Foreign Relations Minister, Jose Serra, called for new strategies to guide the country’s foreign policy, moving away from what he called ideological preferences.
“Our foreign policy will be governed by the values of the state and nation, not the government and never a party,” said Serra, distancing the country from some of the Rousseff’s administration allies, such as the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Analysts predict that Temer, if Rousseff is definitely impeached, has only a few months to prove that it is different from the previous administration. If scandals linking his key aides continue to sprout, his administration is likely to lose the little credibility that has remained, plunging the country into a deeper economic and political crises.