President-elect Bolsonaro forms his cabinet: A new brazilian government on the way

November 23, 2018

President-elect Bolsonaro forms his cabinet: A new brazilian government on the way

After Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in the 2018 presidential election, his first speech addressed to the Brazilian people presented the initial steps to be followed in his government, which starts from January 1, 2019. Until his inauguration, Bolsonaro will choose his ministerial team and decide on the distribution of several other positions. The president-elect has already announced the names of 13 government members, as well as a reduction in the number of ministries, which will go from the current 24 to approximately 17.

Statute 10,609/2002 and Decree 7,221/2010 regulate the activities of the so-called transition team. Shortly after the Social Liberal Party (PSL) candidate’s victory, President Michel Temer stated that the transition office was already available to the president-elect’s team. The transition team is based in the Bank of Brazil’s Cultural Center building, located in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, close to the Planalto Palace, the Brazilian president’s official residence. The activities are carried out by Temer’s Secretary of Office Eliseu Padilha and Onyx Lorenzoni, who was appointed by Bolsonaro to lead the transition.

On October 31, Padilha and Lorenzoni officially met to launch the activities of the transition team. Padilha’s task is to provide Lorenzoni with all the necessary information about the current government, such as numbers regarding public accounts, ministries, programs in progress as well as suggestions from the current government. Lorenzoni, in turn, has already presented the names integrating Bolsonaro’s transition team.


According to Brazilian law, the elected president can appoint up to 50 names to compose his transition team. Bolsonaro has already appointed 27 names to compose 10 thematic groups. The members are led by Onyx Lorenzoni and have access to the “Governa” system, which gathers updated information about the federal government, public accounts, projects in progress and planning suggestions.

The themes on which the transition team is currently working include regional development; science, technology and innovation; state modernization, economy and foreign trade; justice, security and anti-corruption; defense and infrastructure. There are also groups working on sustainable production, agriculture and the environment; health and social assistance.

The transition team includes the announced ministers and a diverse group of professionals. They have been analyzing proposals developed by different people and organizations. In the past weeks,economists have already begun working on issues such as foreign trade, importation taxes and customs system. Regarding trade opening, the proposals being studied generally aim at reducing tariffs on imported goods. Some propose starting the tariff reduction by imported capital, computer and telecom goods, besides reducing the MERCOSUR’s common external tariff (CET).

Other proposals involving the complex Brazilian tax system are also being discussed. Marcos Cintra, president of the Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (Finep), suggested the unification of several federal taxes in only one tax that would be charged on financial transactions. Ernesto Lozardo, president of the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), proposed a unified tax to be applied on the sale of products to the consumer in order to simplify the current system. Former Secretary of the Brazilian Federal Revenue Office Everaldo Maciel has proposed measures to cut red tape involving the opening and closing of companies in Brazil.


In his government program, Bolsonaro proposed reducing the number of ministries in Brazil. He affirmed that he wants a government with “ministers that represent the interests of the Brazilian people, not those of the political parties”. On 31 October, members of Bolsonaro’s transition team affirmed that the president-elect’s government would have only 15 ministries, from the 24 that currently exist. However, after mounting opposition to shutting down some ministries, Bolsonaro announced that there might rather be 17 or 18 ministries.

So far, plans are to extinguish the Ministry of Cities and the Ministry of Tourism (which will become part of the Ministry of National Integration), the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Culture (which will become part of the Ministry of Education), the Ministry of Transports (which will become part of the Ministry of Infrastructure), and the Ministry of Public Security (which will become part of the Ministry of Justice).

As for the economy, Bolsonaro will merge three ministries (Finance, Planning and Trade and Industry) and create the Ministry of the Economy. The new ministry should hold the functions of the former ministries, as well as those of the Secretary of Investment and Partnerships. As planned, financial institutions will be under its authority.

The decision to extinguish other ministries such as the Ministry of Human Rights (which will become part of the Ministry of Social Development) and the Ministry of Labor was criticized by specialists and parts of civil society including NGOs and unions. A week after the decision, Bolsonaro backed down and decided to keep the Ministry of Labor.

Initially, Bolsonaro also had the idea of merging the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Agriculture but he backed off in the last weeks due to criticism from both environmental and farming sectors.


Paulo Guedes
Minister of the Economy

Guedes is a University of Chicago-trained economist. He is the co-founder of Banco Pactual, an investment bank, and founding partner of the BR Investments group. He also helped to create the Millenium Institute and the Brazilian Institute of Capital Markets (Ibmec).Guedes was one of Bolsonaro’s main advisers during his campaign and responsible for the economic section of the candidate’s government program. He proposed privatizing all state firms and implementing an ambitious tax reform.


As a candidate, Bolsonaro leaned heavily on the free-market credentials of Paulo Guedes, who wants sweeping changes that he says will boost growth and eliminate the economic deficit:

  • Pension reform. Pension spending is the biggest driver of the Brazilian deficit, accounting for more than 8% of Brazil’s GDP. With the country’s population aging fast, that could more than double in coming decades.
  • Privatization. Guedes advocates privatizing state firms that dominate the economy, including oil giant Petrobras, the power company Eletrobras, and public banks such as Bank of Brazil.
  • Tax cuts. Slashing taxes and simplifying the tax code to spark private investment and create ten million jobs.
  • Trade deals. Guedes prefers bilateral trade deals and has criticized the “restrictive” regional bloc Mercosur.

Sergio Moro
Minister of Justice

Sergio Moro, the man behind the “Car Wash” operation, is the most famous Brazilian federal judge. Over the last few years, he was responsible for sentencing several influential politicians to jail including former President Lula da Silva.During his term at the Ministry of Justice, Moro is expected to fight organized crime and begin a crusade against corruption in private and public sectors.

Marcos Pontes
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation

Pontes was the first Brazilian astronaut to go into space in 2006. In 1981, Pontes entered the Brazilian Air Force and left as a lieutenant colonel in 1998 when he was selected by the Brazilian Space Agency to represent Brazil at NASA working as an astronaut.Pontes holds a degree in aerospace technology from the Academy of the Armed Forces, a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA), one of the most renowned in Brazil, and a master’s in engineering systems from the US Naval Postgraduate school.

Luiz Henrique Mandetta
Minister of Health

Mandetta is an orthopedist that worked as a doctor in military and public hospitals. In the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, he managed health plans and was a municipal clerk. He presided over Unimed, a health insurance company, from 2001 to 2004 and took over the Secretary of Health in the city of Campo Grande from 2005 to 2010. He is currently serving his second term as a Representative of the right-wing party Democrats (DEM) at the Brazilian National Congress.

Ernesto Araujo
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ernesto Araujo is a career diplomat. He started his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty) in 1991. Before his appointment, Araujo was Director of the United States, Canada and Inter-American Affairs Department for two years.After almost three decades at Itamaraty, Araujo was promoted to the rank of Ambassador in June of this year. He has also served in Brazil’s embassies in Washington (USA) and Ottawa (Canada). It is expected that Araujo will draw Brazilian foreign policy closer to the United States.

Onyx Lorenzoni
Chief of the President’s Office

Lorenzoni is a Representative at the Brazilian National Congress and one of Bolsonaro’s main allies. He was responsible for contacting the congressmen to gain support to his candidacy in Parliament. Lorenzoni is also a member of the Democrats (DEM), he was reelected for his fifth consecutive term in the House of Representatives.He became well known for being the rapporteur of the “Ten measures against corruption” bill carried by popular initiative.

Tereza Cristina
Minister of Agriculture
Tereza Cristina holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV). Reelected for a second term in the House of Representatives, she has been a leader in several rural associations and councils.She ran for the Socialist Brazilian Party (PSB) in the 2014 general elections and led the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives. In 2018, she moved to the Democrats (DEM), composed Temer’s coalition and was chosen leader of the rural caucus. She has put into action the majority of agribusiness-related bills in Congress, such as changes regarding environmental license and led the Commission that approved Bill H.R. 6299 of 2002, the “Pesticides Bill”.

Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez
Minister of Education

Vélez Rodríguez holds a degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical Xaverian University and in Theology from the Conciliar Seminary of Bogotá, a Master’s degree from the Pontifical University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ) and a PhD in Philosophy from the Gama Filho University. He is a retired associate professor from the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) and author of the book The Great Lie – Lula and PT patrimonialism.

Fernando Azevedo e Silva
Minister of Defense

Fernando Azevedo e Silva is a former Brazilian army general. During his military career, he occupied the positions of military commander of the Eastern Military Command and chief of the General Staff of the Army. He headed the Olympic Public Authority during President Dilma Rousseff’s administration.This year general Azevedo e Silva advised the current chief justice of the Supreme Federal Court, Dias Toffoli. Abroad, he served as Chief of Operations in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti.

Augusto Heleno
Chief of the Institutional Security Office

Augusto Heleno is another former Brazilian army general in Bolsonaro’s cabinet. Affiliated to the Progressive Republican Party (PRP), Heleno was one of the main options to be appointed Bolsonaro’s vice president, but the position was given to General Hamilton Mourão (PRTB) after he turned down.The former general became best known in 2004 when he took over the position of Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti. In 2008, he was appointed military commander of the Amazon by former President Lula.

Gustavo Bebianno
Secretary-General of the President

Gustavo Bebianno is an attorney that was president of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) during the electoral campaign. Bebianno became an important ally to Bolsonaro. Until he was introduced to the president-elect, when Bolsonaro was still a representative, the attorney had no political experience.

Carlos Alberto Cruz
Presidency’s Secretary of Government

Lieutenant general Carlos Alberto Cruz is the fourth military officer appointed by Bolsonaro to form his cabinet. Cruz is a graduate of the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras (AMAN) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas (PUC-Campinas). He served as Force Commander of the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) after serving as Deputy Commander for Land Operations of the Brazilian Army and as Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Wagner Rosário
Office of the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU)

Wagner de Campos Rosário has been a Federal Auditor of Finance and Control since 2009. When appointed by Michel Temer in June of last year, he became CGU’s first career officer to assume the organization’s post of executive secretary and minister. Prior to joining CGU, he was part of the Brazilian Army, from where he left as a captain.

André Luiz de Almeida Mendonça
Attorney General of the Government (AGU)

Holding a postgraduate degree in Global Governance, Mendonça has been a Government Attorney since 2000. He also worked in the areas of transparency and anti-corruption in the scope of a partnership with the Office of the Comptroller General of the Government (CGU) as well as coordinated the disciplinary area of the AGU’s comptroller.

Roberto Campos Neto
President of the Central Bank

Currently Santander’s treasury director for the Americas, Campos was appointed to the presidency of the Central Bank – which will no longer have a status of ministry during Bolsonaro’s government. To take over the position, Campos Neto will have to be approved by the Senate’s Commission for Economic Affairs and have his name endorsed by the plenary.