Brazil's Bolsonaro huddles with advisers to pick cabinet

3 min

Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazil's far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro huddled with advisers Tuesday to finalize the cabinet that will be charged with implementing his hardline agenda, as opponents planned their "resistance."

The former army captain, who vowed after winning Sunday's election to "change Brazil's destiny," met with top members of his team at the home of a wealthy backer in an exclusive Rio de Janeiro neighborhood.

Key Bolsonaro adviser Gustavo Bebianno told journalists the group would be choosing "a combat vanguard for the transition period and the cabinet."

Attendees also included Bolsonaro's likely pick for chief of staff, lawmaker Onyx Lorenzoni, and his top economic adviser, liberal economist Paulo Guedes.

In his first interviews as president-elect late Monday, Bolsonaro, 63, doubled down on campaign pledges to implement his conservative agenda and crack down on crime and corruption.

He revisited his most radical proposal for fighting Brazil's soaring crime rate: loosening gun laws so "good people" can take justice into their own hands.

"It's clear there's a need, because of the violence in Brazil. The country is at war," he told TV network Record.

"We want to change the law. We need to lower the minimum age (to bear guns) from 25 to 21. We can't place any more burdens on people who have a gun at home to defend their family's safety."

He gave the hypothetical example of a truck driver who finds someone stealing his spare tire.

"He would give criminals the following example: he would shoot, the criminal element would be taken down in legitimate self-defense, and the (driver) would go before (the authorities) but he wouldn't be punished," he said.

- Crusading judge in cabinet? -

Bolsonaro also said he wanted to name anti-corruption crusader Sergio Moro as justice minister, or else nominate the judge -- the head of the massive "Car Wash" graft probe -- to the Supreme Court.

The anti-establishment wave that Bolsonaro rode to victory was fueled partly by anger over the findings of Moro's investigation.

Since it was launched in 2014, the sprawling probe has uncovered the large-scale looting of state oil company Petrobras, and landed a laundry list of corrupt politicians and business executives in jail.

"I do intend to (approach Moro)... maybe for the justice ministry," Bolsonaro said.

"I plan to speak with him, to find out if he's interested and, if there is interest on his part, he will certainly be an extremely important person in a government like ours."

He also floated Moro as a possibility for one of two Supreme Court positions set to be vacated during his term.

Although politicians of all stripes have fallen in the "Car Wash" probe, Moro has been accused of being particularly merciless on the left -- especially former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had been trying to stage a comeback in this year's presidential race.

Moro sentenced Lula -- a hugely divisive but enduringly popular figure -- to jail for taking bribes from a Petrobras contractor.

The former leader is currently serving 12 years behind bars, which led the courts to bar his presidential run.

Lula's substitute, Fernando Haddad, lost Sunday's runoff election to Bolsonaro by 10 percentage points, as voters punished the Workers' Party -- winner of the previous four presidential elections -- for corruption and economic malaise.

- Protest plans -

Bolsonaro is due to travel to Brasilia next week to meet with outgoing President Michel Temer, said Bebianno.

Workers' Party leaders were meanwhile due to meet Tuesday in Sao Paulo to chart the future of the once-dominant movement.

Protests were planned for later in the day in Rio and Sao Paulo against Bolsonaro, who has outraged many people with his disparaging comments on women, blacks and gays.

The slogan for the protests: "Resistance."