Michel Temer

What are the reforms and measures President-elect Trump congratulated Brazilian President Michel Temer for?

In a “friendly and positive” conversation made on Tuesday morning, Brazilian President Michel Temer congratulated Trump for the election victory and both presidents discussed business opportunities between the two largest economies in the Americas.

It is quite common for newly elected government leaders to receive phone calls from other international colleagues so as a form of congratulation and as a way of reassuring diplomatic relations. And this time was Brazil’s president turn to phone Donald Trump, aiming to greet him over his victory again — once he had already done so previously through a telegram — and to reinforce mutual economical growth between both nations.

As stated in a press release by Michel Temer’s office, the two leaders had a very friendly and positive dialogue, in which Trump even offered his condolences for the plane crash accident involving the Chapecoense soccer team in November 28, in addition to complimenting Temer for the reforms and measures he has been promoting in the South American country.

It is also said that they both agreed to launch an agenda focused on Brazil-US trade growth once Trump takes power and that the country’s respective teams will start meeting in February to develop the specifics of the agenda.

Temer and Trump: similarities beyond what has been thought

Brazil and US presidents — Michel Temer, age 76 and married to former beauty queen Marcela who is 33 years old, and Trump, age 70 and married to former model Melania who is 46 years old — have some remarkable resemblances well captured by columnist and lawyer Christopher Brauchli.

As soon as Temer became president after Rousseff’s impeachment, he began appointing ministers for his cabinet, being one of his first picks a creationist bishop who does not believe in evolution to serve as Science Minister. The appointment, however, was criticized within the scientific community, being eventually rescinded, and the bishop in question ended up being chosen as Trade Minister. Trump has also given a creationist the opportunity to serve in his cabinet, nominating Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. What is expected, however, is that the fact that Carson does not believe in global warming or evolution should not negatively impact his ability to serve as secretary.

As Minister of Agriculture, Michel Temer appointed a politician known as the “soybean king” of Brazil, who has been involved in extensive deforestation projects and who was promoting a constitutional amendment to get rid of environmental restrictions on public projects. Trump has chosen Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, who has long been an advocate for other school methodologies instead of increasing funding for public schools; also, to manage the transition team at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Trump has chosen Scott Pruitt, a climate change denialist.

What are the reforms and measures Trump congratulates Michel Temer for?

There is nothing to be complimented for. Actually, Temer’s measures are to be regretted, such as the Constitutional Amendment Proposal called PEC 241, which aims to freezing expenses with health, education, welfare and social security for the next 20 years, what is, in fact, counterproductive.The amendment, nevertheless, does not include adjustments within the salaries and benefits of the president, deputies, senators, and judges.

The parliamentarians who voted the PEC 241 earn an average monthly salary of  R$ 26,7 thousand, in addition to “funds for exercise of the mandate” (travels, fuel, telephone) in the amount of R$ 34.2 thousand, plus a housing assistance amount of R$ 3 thousand and office funds (used with advisers) of R$ 74 thousand.

According to a ranking released by The Economist, among 29 countries, the salary of Brazilian parliamentarians appears as one of the highest, occupying the fifth place, earning US$ 157.6 thousand per year, more than in countries like Canada (US $ 154 thousand), Japan (US $ 149.7 thousand), Norway (US $ 138 thousand), Germany (US $ 119.5 thousand ), Israel (US $ 114,800), United Kingdom (US $ 105,400), Sweden (US $ 99,300), France (US $ 85,900) and Spain (US $ 43,9 thousand).

Besides, Brazilian justice is among the most expensive in the world, as stated in a study by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul researcher Luciano Da Ros, who puts the cost of the Brazilian justice system at 1.3% of the nation’s GDP, while such spending consumes 0.2% of GDP in France, 0.3% in Italy, 0.4% in Germany and 0.4% in Portugal. Also, according to the study, 89% of the spending goes to payroll, with wages higher than 70% of European countries. Brazil also has more clerks and other court workers than many countries.

Late scandals on Temer

Last month, Temer’s Minister of Culture resigned from his post alleging that Geddel Vieira Lima — Legislative Affairs Minister and one of Temer’s closest allies — had been putting pressure on him to approve the construction of a high rise luxury apartment building in which Geddel had purchased an apartment, once the construction could not be advanced as it was located in a historic preservation area. After that, Temer vigorously defended Geddel against the charges in question, what caused the previously mentioned minister who had resigned to accuse Temer of having spoken to him twice about the project, pressuring him both times to approve it. In the end, Geddel also resigned from his post.

Also, Temer’s name showed up 43 times in a document based on the plea bargain of one of the executives involved in a corruption case which have already made about 100 business executives and politicians to be arrested or to be under investigation for allegedly overcharging contracts with Petrobras and other state-run companies to pay for bribes and election campaigns.

Maybe Trump should regret complimenting Temer

Well, it must be clear by now that Temer’s political performance have not been very productive. With a low popularity, austerity measures and corruption scandals, Brazil’s president should focus first of all not in strengthening ties with Donald Trump, but rather making effective decisions to truly listen to his population’s needs, and not be an adversity to health and education development . As the nation faces a never-seen-before political, economical and moral crisis, what is required is a mutual national cooperation to put the things in the right place.

Luiz Felipe Moraes is an Editor for Brazil in the Naked Opinion section of The Pavlovic Today. He is a Yale Young Global Scholar 2016. His interests revolve around International Relations, humanities,...

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