NewsThe sister of the murdered councilor Marielle Franco will...

The sister of the murdered councilor Marielle Franco will be Minister of Racial Equality in the Lula government

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Rio de Janeiro councilor Marielle Franco, a prominent human rights activist brutally murdered four years ago, will be somewhat represented in the future Brazilian government. President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced this Thursday the names of 16 new ministers and among them is the young Anielle Franco, Marielle’s sister, who will assume the Ministry of Racial Equality.

The future minister is a teacher and after the murder of her sister she founded the Marielle Franco Institute, dedicated to promoting policies in defense of women, Afro-Brazilians, the LGTBIQIA + community or residents of favelas and peripheries. One of the organization’s objectives is also to encourage black women like her to make the leap into politics.

Among the ministers announced is also Vice President Geraldo Alckmin, who will also be head of Industry and Commerce. It was a last-minute solution after Lula received a no for an answer from Josue Gomes, the president of the powerful Sao Paulo State Federation of Industries (Fiesp). “With the respect he enjoys among Brazilian businessmen, he will be an extraordinary minister,” Lula said of Alckmin, a center-right man who in the campaign was key for Lula to conquer the middle classes and appease the fear of the elites.

Among the announced ministers there are many old acquaintances, and most are in the orbit of the Workers’ Party (PT). At the moment they do not reflect the famous “broad front” that brought Lula to power. Nor are there great conquests in the field of gender and racial diversity. Men continue to predominate, but one of the most important ministries, Health, will be headed for the first time by a woman, Nisia Trindade. Until now, she was in charge of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, a public body with a strong role during the covid-19 pandemic, since it produced tens of millions of vaccines.

The Ministry of Education, another of the structural axes of the Government, remains in the hands of the ex-governor of the State of Ceara Camilo Santana, of the PT. Despite tough negotiations with the parties that supported Lula’s candidacy in the elections to take one of the most coveted slices of the pie, the PT also scores another important victory: the Ministry of Social Development. It is the portfolio that manages payments from Bolsa Família, aid to the most vulnerable sectors that in the past lifted more than 30 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty and has a strong electoral impact.

In recent days there has been speculation that this decisive department would end up in the hands of Simone Tebet, who came third in the last elections and whose explicit support for Lula in the second round was decisive for his victory. Lula is indebted to the senator of the center, but he did not give her the ministry to which she aspired. From the PT she feared that the visibility of social assistance would further increase her popularity on a national scale and she would become a dangerously competitive rival in the 2026 elections.

The forecast, in any case, is that Lula grants him some of the ministries that have yet to be assigned. In total there will be 37, 60% more than those of the outgoing Administration of Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s team assures that it is a reorganization and that in reality no more positions will be created, beyond the ministers, so the extra cost for the public coffers will not be so high. More than for management reasons, the large number of ministries is explained because it seeks to accommodate all the parties that supported Lula in the elections or whose support is key to being able to govern with the National Congress. “It is more difficult to set up the government than to win the elections,” said an animated Lula before announcing this new batch of ministers.

Future ministers will have several challenges ahead. The final report of the transition team, presented this Thursday, brings together all the information collected in recent weeks on the outlook left by the Bolsonaro government. The document, of more than 70 pages, is entitled X-ray of the dismantling of the State and public policies. Lula affirmed that she will deliver one to each minister so that the before and after his time in government can be clearly seen.

“After four years in office, we received this government in a situation of hardship, not even the simplest thing was done,” lamented the future president, who will take office on January 1. At least he can celebrate that the National Congress approved the amendment to the Constitution that he defended in order to expand public spending. It will be 145,000 million reais (more than 28,000 million dollars, 26,500 million euros) above the so-called spending ceiling (a fiscal rule that prevents the State from increasing spending by a percentage higher than the previous year’s inflation). The exception, however, will only last one year, less than what Lula wanted.

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