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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Faces First Defeat in Congress

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), at the Clube Naval, in Brasilia, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Brazil’s lower chamber handed right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro his first defeat in Congress on Tuesday, the day before his government presents its most important legislative proposal to rein in a gaping budget deficit and spur growth.

The house voted overwhelmingly to suspend an executive order by the Bolsonaro government that altered Brazil’s freedom of information law to broaden the number of officials allowed to designate data and documents as secret or ultra-secret.

Lawmakers voted 367 to 57 to fast-track a bill overturning the secrecy measure and government whips were unable to muster votes to avoid defeat.

The bill must still be voted on by the Senate, but the reversal showed that Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, has not yet been able to organize a coalition in Congress to back his legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro will send to Congress his plan to overhaul Brazil’s generous and costly pension system that eats up more than half of federal spending and is the main factor behind an unsustainable budget deficit.

Brazil, Bolsonaro
FILE – Gustavo Bebianno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2018. VOA

Approval of pension reform is vital for the recovery of investor confidence in Latin America’s largest economy.

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal involving campaign financing for some of his party’s congressional candidates in the October elections.

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The ousted minister, Gustavo Bebianno, was instrumental in getting Bolsonaro elected but had a run-in with one of the president’s sons, triggering the weeks-old government’s first cabinet crisis.

In a note to clients, analysts at Eurasia Group said the scandal indicated the administration’s political team was in disarray, but they still expected the pension reform to get passed, albeit in a less ambitious version. (VOA)

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Blames Leonardo DiCaprio for Amazon Forest Fires

Leonardo DiCaprio blamed for Amazon fires by Brazil President

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President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has blamed Leonardo DiCaprio for the devastating forest fires in the Amazon. Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has blamed Hollywood’s Oscar-winning superstar Leonardo DiCaprio for the devastating forest fires in the Amazon.

DiCaprio has been accused of funding non-profit groups, which Bolsonaro feels were responsible for fires in the Amazon rainforest, reports mirror.co.uk.

The President, however, did not back his claim with any evidence.

“DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” President Bolsonaro said, while speaking to supporters in Brasilia.

Jair Bolsonaro blames Leonardo DiCaprio
DiCaprio has been accused of funding non-profit groups, which Jair Bolsonaro feels were responsible for fires in the Amazon rainforest. Wikimedia Commons

He made a similar claim in a Facebook live broadcast.

“Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon,” Bolsonaro accused, claiming that the actor is part of an international campaign against Brazil.

DiCaprio’s environmental organisation Earth Alliance has pledged $5 million to help protect the Amazon after a surge in fires destroyed large parts of the rainforest in July and August.

Also Read- Amazon Rainforest Fires May Increase Glacier Melting: Study

The actor-environmentalist said in a statement his group had not funded any of the two nonprofits named by the investigators so far.

“While worthy of support, we did not fund the organisations targeted,” the statement read. (IANS)