By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil announced on Tuesday, December 23rd, thirteen new cabinet members for her second term, which begins on January 1st. In November Rousseff had already named her economic team, and the President is expected to release the name of the other cabinet members next week after the Christmas holidays.
One of the most controversial appointments was Senator Katia Abreu to head the Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Ministry. Several environmental groups and indigenous communities have criticized the appointment of Abreu, current president of the Confederação Nacional da Agricultura – CNA (National Agriculture Confederation), saying that it will be a big step backwards in terms of environmental policies and indigenous rights.
Abreu was dubbed the ‘miss deforestation’ by environmentalists who say that during her time in Congress she has sided with farmers and lumber industries to change deforestation laws and policies in the Amazon region. In 2011 Greenpeace gave her the ‘chainsaw queen’ award. She has in the past, for example, defended that demarcation of indigenous land be transferred from FUNAI (National Indigenous Foundation) to Congress.
Other newly appointed cabinet members include: Senator Eduardo Braga, who will have to deal with the Petrobras scandal and one of the worst water shortages in São Paulo state, as the new Mines and Energy Ministry; Jacques Wagner, former governor of Bahia, who will head the Defense Ministry; Aldo Rabelo, current Sports Minister who next year will lead the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; and Ceará governor Cid Gomes as the new Education Minister.
At the end of November the Administration announced its economic team for the new term, appointing Joaquim Levy as Finance Minister and Nelson Barbosa as Planning Ministry. Central Bank (CB) President, Alexandre Tombini was asked to remain as head of the CB. In the beginning of December was appointed as Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.
Rousseff is expected to announce the other twenty-two cabinet members next week. Political analysts say that Secretary of State, Aloízio Mercadante, is likely to be asked to continue on for the next four years.
Current Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo, is also expected to remain at his post. The names of those who will head the ministries of health, environment, social security, communications, foreign relations, labor, transports, human rights and agrarian reform are still unknown.
Local media has stated that Rousseff is trying to choose cabinet members who are not in any way implicated in the Petrobras scandal and not on the list given by former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, to the federal police, as those receiving money from the money-laundering and corruption scheme.