Just over a month after being elected to lead a country of over 210 million people, Brazil’s controversial new President Jair Bolsonaro made his debut on the international stage to offer his vision of what he dubbed a “New Brazil” while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Often portrayed as “the Donald Trump of South America”, the crux of Bolsonaro’s message focused on his promises to root out graft, privatise Brazil’s key industries, and repair his country’s standing on the international stage, which was severely damaged by massive corruption scandals involving members of the two previous administrations, including former presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff – with the latter having been removed from office in 2016 for her involvement in a money laundering scheme.
With high-level delegations from the United Kingdom and France noticeably absent from this year’s Davos conference, and with the US administration having abruptly cancelled its plans to attend just days before the opening of the annual meeting of the world’s economic and government heavyweights, Bolsonaro took the opportunity to cast himself as a crusader against the sort of graft that has stalled Brazil’s growth for the last half decade and to call time on South America’s Marxist-inspired “Bolivarian” left that has dominated the continent since the early 2000s, but has caused the economies of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Nicaragua to bottom out from the crushing debt that they accrued due to overspending and the corrupt inefficiency of their Cuba-style economic models.
Bolsonaro insisted that his election last month was the start of a new, conservative era of clean governance in Brazil, one that would resonate across the rest of the continent. Using a terse and often combative tone, Bolsonaro pledged to improve the business climate in Latin America’s largest economy and protect the environment.
Sworn in as Brazil’s president this month, Bolsonaro said during his speech that he will put his country on a pro-market path and lower the tax burden on businesses, while also making the country more open to foreign trade.
“Brazil’s economy is still relatively closed…to change that is one of my administration’s major commitments,” said Bolsonaro while speaking to those in attendance on January 22, before adding that he would push to “harmonise environmental preservation with much-needed economic development.”