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Bromance Blooms Between Trump and Brazil’s New Populist President

05 January 2019
Bromance Blooms Between Trump and Brazil’s New Populist President

During his presidential campaign, far-right Jair Bolsonaro said he was considering placing indigenous affairs under the ministry of agriculture, alleging lands should be opened to commercial activities that are now banned.

His executive order also affects the lands of "quilombolas", as descendants of former slaves are known.

"FUNAI is no longer responsible for the identification, delimitation and demarcation of indigenous lands", a far-left indigenous leader, Sonia Guajajara, tweeted.

After she was sworn in on Wednesday, new Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias defended the farm sector from accusations it has grown at the expense of the environment, adding that the strength of Brazil's farmers had generated "unfounded accusations" from unnamed worldwide groups.

The temporary decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, strips power over land claim decisions from indigenous affairs agency FUNAI. FUNAI, which additionally oversees different initiatives for indigenous communities comparable to healthcare, housing and language preservation, can be moved into a brand new ministry for household, ladies and human rights.

He had planned to merge to merge the agriculture and environment ministries but backtracked when that provoked an outcry. "Let us together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians".

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the handover ceremony of his new Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva in Brasilia, Brazil on January 2, 2018.

In the US, the Trump administration has reacted positively to Bolsonaro's inauguration, with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley tweeting Tuesday, "It's great to have another USA -friendly leader in South America" and predicting that the president will help to fight against "dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba"-despite Bolsonaro's praise for his own country's military dictatorship which ruled Brazil for two decades".

Bolsonaro thanked Trump for his "words of encouragement".

Observatorio do Clima, a network of 45 Brazilian civil society groups, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the executive orders "are only the first step on meeting Bolsonaro's campaign promises of dismantling environmental governance, stripping indigenous peoples of their rights and opening up indigenous lands for business".

Trump wrote on Twitter.

"Together, under God's protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!" he said.

Another order issued on Tuesday removed the concerns of the LGBT community from consideration by the new human rights ministry.

Backed massively by conservative sectors of Brazil, including Christian evangelical churches, Bolsonaro would block moves to legalize abortion beyond even the current limited exceptions and remove sex education from public schools, opposing what he calls "cultural Marxism" introduced by recent leftist governments.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said the decree on NGOs could be viewed in a positive light, but also expressed concerns.

LGBT activist Symmy Larrat told the outlet that she is expecting unequal treatment from Bolsonaro's administration.

Bolsonaro plans to realign Brazil internationally, moving away from developing nation allies and closer to the policies of Western leaders, particularly US President Donald Trump, who sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to his inauguration.