By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Calling for unity and support of the population, Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, asked his fellow countrymen to trust his government and support the reforms needed to overcome the deep economic recession and corruption scandal which has shaken Latin America’s biggest nation.
“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 on Thursday night. According to Temer rebuilding the economy will be his administration’s number one priority.
During the ceremony, Temer, introduced the new cabinet members, all male, some whom had also been part of the Lula and Rousseff administrations.
The new leader emphasized that any and all rights obtained by the population would be maintained, and all social programs, such as the Workers’ Party hallmarks Bolsa Família (family scholarship) and Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My Home, My Life) were guaranteed.
As a sign of his commitment for change, President Temer announced the reduction of cabinet ministries, from Rousseff’s 31 to 22. New Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles, is expected to announce new economic measures as early as Friday. Meirelles is well-known and respected by the international financial market, having held the post of Central Bank President under the Lula Administration.
Meanwhile, outside the Presidential Palace, dozens of anti-impeachment protesters demonstrated against the new leader. Police had to use pepper spray to keep protesters from going up the Palace’s ramp. Elsewhere in Brazil demonstrators also took to the streets to protest the new government.
In São Paulo, nearly 30,000 protesters, according to organizers halted traffic at Avenida Paulista, shouting they did not recognize the new government. In Rio de Janeiro’s Cinelandia a crowd also gathered to criticize the Senate’s decision and the new Temer government.