Brazil’s New President Jair Bolsonaro Starts Process Of Selling Off Over $250 Billion In State Assets

Privatizing Brazil's airports and harbors is just the first step in President Bolsonaro's plan to shrink the government.

Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), arrives to cast his vote on October 28, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ricardo Moraes-Pool / Getty Images

Privatizing Brazil's airports and harbors is just the first step in President Bolsonaro's plan to shrink the government.

Brazil’s new right-wing nationalist leader Jair Bolsonaro isn’t wasting any time setting the tone for his new administration. In one of his first moves as president, Bolsonaro signed an executive decree effectively reducing the minimum wage established by the former ruling party in August. Telesur reports that under the decree, which will have to be approved by the country’s Congress within the next 60 days, the minimum wage was set to 998 Brazilian reais ($257 U.S.) from 1,006 Brazilian reais ($267 U.S.).

“The difference may seem insignificant,” Telesur reporter Ignacio Limas said, “but is equivalent to a bag of beans or lentils or rice or corn for families with less financial resources — something that would have a large impact on the overall budgets of families.”

Another executive order signed by Bolsonaro removed the LGBT community from a list of groups protected by human rights guidelines. Under the new Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights mandate, only “women, children and adolescents, youth, the elderly, people with disabilities, the Black population, ethnic and social minorities, and Indians” are considered protected groups. As reported by the Inquisitr, Brazil saw a surge in same-sex marriage following Bolsonaro’s election victory in October 2018 as LGBT couples anticipated the administration to be hostile towards them.

The country’s indigenous population reacted negatively to another executive order made by the president on his first day. The decree puts the business-friendly Ministry of Agriculture in charge of “identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people.” Critics fear this will lead to large chunks of indigenous land being turned over for industrial use. Even the normally reserved Reuters didn’t mince words regarding the decision with the headline “Brazil farm lobby wins as Bolsonaro grabs control over indigenous lands.”

On Wednesday, President Bolsonaro announced via Twitter a plan to privatize the country’s airports and harbors in a move he expects will bring in 7 billion reais ($1.85 billion) in private investments and help liberate the country “from socialism, political correctness and a bloated state.”

That’s just the beginning of a plan created by investment banker-turned-Economy Minister Paulo Guedes to privatize all industries across Brazil, bringing in as much as 1 trillion reais ($257 billion). Also on Guedes to-do list according to Reuters: slash taxes from 36 percent to 20 percent, and institute pension reform that critics fear will copy Chile’s privatization model. Those fears may be well founded: Guedes was involved in those pension changes, working with the government of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet 40 years ago.