Senate-imposed President Michel Temer’s new cabinet has already garnered widespread criticism for being made up entirely of old white men for the first time since the country’s last dictatorship, but the reasons to be worried about the ministers who have just been handed the reigns in Latin America’s largest economy also run much deeper.
Like Temer, several of his ministers are also embroiled in corruption, with seven members under investigation over accusations of being involved in the Petrobras state oil fraud scandal. Many are also closely connected to corporate power in Brazil.
One of Temer’s first moves toward austerity has been to cut cabinet posts from 31 to 22, eliminating the Ministries of Women, Racial Equality, Human Rights, and more.
Here’s a closer look at 12 of Brazil’s new leaders.
1. Deforested Amazon, Built an Empire
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi is an agribusiness mogul, known as the “Soybean King,” who has pushed for expanding the agricultural frontier of the Amazon rainforest into large areas for soybean production.
2. Made Promises to Chevron
Foreign Minister Jose Serra has been clearly tied to Chevron ever since he promised the oil giant in 2009 that legislative changes would be pushed to favor foreign extraction activities in Brazil. He told multinational oil corporations that the regulations governing offshore exploration and drilling could be easily reversed, according to WikiLeaks cables.
3. Cracked Down on Social Protest
Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes has been accused of complicity in human rights abuses. He previously served as secretary of security for the conservative state government of Sao Paulo, where he oversaw brutal police crackdowns on protests, including an incident earlier this year widely condemned for excessive use of force against demonstrators. He also allegedly provided legal services to a company accused of running a money laundering scheme.
4. Funded by Private Health Care Business
Health Minister Ricardo Barros allegedly has no background in public health. His single largest campaign donor in his successful 2014 run for Congress was reportedly the president of a private Brazilian health care company. Barros has already hinted at rolling back the country’s foundational and massively popular universal health care program.
5. Evangelical Creationist
Trade Minister Marcos Pereira is an Evangelical pastor who rejects the theory of evolution. He was considered as the potential minister of the newly-merged Ministry of Science and Communications, but Temer handed him the reigns of trade instead
6. Bribery and Fraud
Temer’s Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha is under investigation for crimes of conspiracy, bribery, embezzlement, and hiding his assets, among others. He is accused of being involved in an scheme involving private lobbyist and public officials that robbed public coffers.
7. Recipient of Millions in Bribes
Planning and Development Minister Romero Juca is accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes.
9. Implicated in Huge Corruption
Minister of Education and Culture Mendonca Filho is implicated in the investigations known as Operation Car Wash which lie at the core of the country’s corruption probes and involve accusations of money laundering and fraud involving the state oil company Petrobras. The newly-merged ministry joins the culture and education ministries for the first time since the officers were separated in 1985 after the fall of the dictatorship.
10. Committed Wage Fraud
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann was reportedly caught committing wage fraud by claiming a paycheck for a job that was no longer his. He is also accused of corruption with public funds and other fraud charges.
11. Schemed for Big Pharma
City Development Minister Bruno Araujo is one of Temer’s ministers implicated in the Operation Car Wash corruption investigations over allegations of receiving illegal funds. He is also accused of being involved in a lobbying scheme aimed at pushing through revised laws on banned pharmaceutical drugs.
12. Beloved by Wall Street
While not a member of the cabinet, the new Central Bank president nominated by Temer and expected to be ratified by the Senate, Ilan Goldfajn, also signals a shift. Goldfajn is currently chief economist of Brazil’s largest private-sector bank, Itau Unibanco, and also headed the Central Bank from 2000 to 2003. According Reuters, the former World Bank and IMF consultant is “very respected on Wall Street.”
This piece originally ran on teleSUR