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Brazil's Bolsonaro begins firing public servants

January 3, 2019

President Jair Bolsonaro has authorized the dismissal of civil servants who don't share his government's far-right ideology. The sweep will target officials deemed sympathetic to Brazil's centrist and left-wing parties.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a meeting with all his ministers at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia.
Image: Reuters/Presidency/M. Correa

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's administration on Thursday launched a purge of government officials who don't share its far-right ideology.

Bolsonaro authorized the dismissal of some 300 officials on temporary contracts.

The government "will clean the house," Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni told a news conference after a Cabinet meeting headed by Bolsonaro, who took office this week.

"It's the only way to govern with our ideas, our concepts and to carry out what Brazil's society decided in its majority," said Lorenzoni, who is seen as the second most powerful member of the executive after Bolsonaro.

The sweep will target officials who are seen as sympathetic to the centrist and left-wing parties that have ruled Brazil since 1985, when the country got rid of military dictatorship.

Read more: Is Brazil turning into a military state?

Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper and veteran lawmaker, decisively won last year's presidential election by tapping into voter discontent over rampant crime and corruption. He has pledged to boost investment, ease gun laws and stop "Marxist trash" from being taught in schools and universities.

In an address to the nation earlier in the week, Bolsonaro said now that he had taken power, his country had been "liberated from socialism and political correctness."  

Ideological purge

Lorenzoni said the ideological purge of contractors aimed "to do away with the Socialist and Communist ideas that during 30 years have led us to the chaos in which we live."

Bolsonaro and his team have often described their rival parties, in particular the left-wing Workers Party that governed between 2003 and 2016, as "socialists" or "communists."

"It doesn't make sense to have a government with a profile like ours to keep on people who support another way of thinking, another political system," Lorenzoni said, adding that some of those dismissed might be rehired if they passed an "evaluation" of their ideological leanings.

The purge will not affect those civil servants who enter the services through a competitive exam and are protected from partisan politics by the constitution.

ap/sms (AFP, EFE)

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