Popularity Down to 5%? So Be It if It Saves Brazil, Says President Michel Temer

    Brazilian president Michel Temer talks to entrepreneurs in New York - Beto Barata/PR

    Brazilian president Michel Temer talks to entrepreneurs in New York - Beto Barata/PR During a press conference with US executives in New York, President Michel Temer reiterated he plans to put the country back on track, even if it leads to a deeper plunge in his popularity.

    He failed to comment on the fact that former President Lula is to stand trial after Sergio Moro accepted the charges filed by the task force of Operation Car Wash. Temer simply said “If I were in his shoes, I’d turn to the Judiciary branch to debate.”

    When asked about the moment when leaders from six Latin American countries left the plenary hall where the UN General Assembly was being held during his opening address, Temer said he was sorry, but played down the incident.

    “There were 193 countries present, I admit I didn’t notice their departure.” According to the president, the relations between the countries “should be institutional, state-to-state ties, not those of a government to another government, both of which transitional.”

    Brazilian president Michel Temer talks to entrepreneurs in New York - Beto Barata/PR

    The president denied he is concerned with risks that his popularity might be undermined by any fiscal adjustment measures. “If my popularity plunges to 5% but I manage to save Brazil in these two years and four months — put the country back on track — I’d be satisfied,” he stated.

    Temer further said that, as a vice-president, he had no knowledge of the corruption problems involving Dilma Rousseff’s administration. “I didn’t know, of course. You know I had no participation in the government. I even dubbed myself ‘decorative vice-president’ once. I took no part of, I didn’t follow any of it,” he stated.

    Invitation

    “I invite you all to take part in this new phase of economic growth in the country,” said President Michel Temer Wednesday (September 21) during a speech for US executives and investors promoted by the Council of the Americas, in New York.

    Brazil is going through a moment of “extraordinary political stability,” the president said, and “crucial” reforms are making significant strides in the country’s pension system, government spending, and labor laws.

    Temer noted that his administration has “easy communication channels with the Legislative branch,” which has made possible reforms and proposals the Executive is keen on.

    “In Brazil, we have extraordinary political stability between the Executive and Legislative branches, which also brings legal security,” he said.

    The president explained to executives that the new package of concessions under the Program for Investment Partnerships (PPI in the original acronym), recently launched by the government, seeks to “do something established in our Constitution, namely to have the private enterprise participate in the development and growth of the country alongside the government,” he said.

    To stimulate the investment, the president stressed, reforms are underway in the country in such fields as labor laws, the pension system, and government spending. As for the pension system, Temer said, changes will be “radical.”

    “We’re facing a gaping deficit in our pension system. It’s an issue challenging a number of countries. Particularly in Brazil, this has been an ongoing source of grief in our financial and budgetary system. This is why we’re about to finish talks and to conclude the preparations for a radical overhaul in the pension system, to be submitted to Congress.”

    Petrobras

    The president also highlighted the end of Petrobras’s mandatory 30% in shares in pre-salt oil exploration enterprises. In his view, the measure was made possible thanks to the Foreign Minister José Serra, who penned the bill changing the sharing system.

    “We are universalizing the Brazilian market with the conviction that, in order to generate employment, we must stimulate business and recover confidence in the country,” Temer declared.

    He went on to say that “a number of other sectors” will be opened to the private enterprise, foreigners included.

    Paris Agreement

    President Michel Temer delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon the document in which Brazil ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. The document established goals to be achieved by the country, in order to limit the world’s temperature rise.

    The agreement will enter into force after at least 55 countries accounting in total for at least 55 percent of the total global greenhouse emissions have ratified (approved as law) it. Only 30 countries have submitted the document until now.

    Signed by 197 countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the agreement was approved by the Brazilian National Congress in August this year.

    Under the agreement, countries officially commit to try to keep global temperature rises below 2C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 by 2100, based on pre-industrial levels.

    The agreement also intends to continue their collective mobilization goal from a floor of US$ 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries, and requests the countries to update every five years their contribution to limit climate change.

    The agreement set individual goals for each country, Brazil is committed, for example, to curb greenhouse emissions by 37% below 2005 levels in 2025; and 43% below 2005 levels in 2030.

    Brazil will also contribute by achieving 45% of renewables in the energy mix, of which between 28% and 33% would be renewable energy sources other than hydropower, including wind and solar energy. Currently, 43.1% of the total energy mix is renewable, and 56.9% is non-renewable, and 38.5% uses petroleum and oil products.

    FARC Agreement

    Temer is expected to take part in the signing of the historic peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), slated for next Monday (September 26). The ceremony, to be held in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias, will seal the end of 50 years of armed conflicts in the country.

    Cuban leader Raul Castro is also expected to attend the ceremony, along with the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who are to act as mediators.

    The pact will be signed by President Junan Manuel Santos and the main leader of the FARC, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, known as Timoleón Jiménez, or Timochenko. The ceremony is held after over three years of negotiations.

    The terms of the deal will be subjected to a referendum in Colombia on October 2. Also with the purpose of concluding negotiations and dismantling the group as an armed organization, the FARC are promoting a conference with approximately 200 delegates, in which they will also discuss its change into a political party.

    Long History

    The armed conflict between FARC and the Colombian Army is regarded as the oldest of its kind in South America. In its most active years, the group went as far as to kidnap and murder to defend what it deemed its ideals, among which land reform and the creation of a socialist state.

    Among its famous hostages is Senator and former presidential hopeful Ingrid Betancourt, who was kept under the control of guerrillas for six years and was rescued by the Colombian Army in 2008 along with 15 other people.

    Since 1964, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 220 thousand people in Colombia. The FARC are also on the international list of terrorist organizations and once had 7.8 thousand soldiers working in its forests and national borders.

    ABr

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