Latin America & Caribbean

Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil's leader vows growth with environmental protection

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro at the World Economic Forum Image copyright EPA
Image caption The World Economic Forum marks Mr Bolsonaro's first foreign trip as Brazil's president

Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to grow the economy while protecting the environment.

In Davos, on his first foreign trip, he also promised to implement tax and social security reforms and reduce the size of the state.

But he did not give details about his plans, frustrating business leaders and investors, correspondents say.

Critics fear his policies to boost growth could mean a relaxation of environmental protections.

A deeply divisive figure, Mr Bolsonaro was sworn in on 1 January promising to free Brazil of corruption, crime and economic mismanagement.

But the 63-year-old's racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks have angered many.

What did Bolsonaro say in Davos?

In a keynote address at the World Economic Forum, Mr Bolsonaro said economic development and environmental protection should go "hand-in-hand".

In his eight-minute speech, he promised to open up the "relatively closed" economy to foreign investment and said his government had "credibility" to implement reforms, without giving details.

In an interview later he said he planned to carry out tax and social security reforms.

While many in Brazil agree that difficult reforms are needed to restore the economy, correspondents say there are concerns about the potential impact of his policies.

Hours after he took office, Mr Bolsonaro transferred the creation and limitation of indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry, a decision that was seen as a victory for agribusiness.

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Media captionPresident Bolsonaro calls for an end of corruption in his inauguration speech

Last week, Mr Bolsonaro signed a decree making it easier to buy firearms, a controversial decision that was one of his main campaign pledges.

Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and Mr Bolsonaro has said more guns will allow "good people" help combat violent crime.

Critics, however, say the move could actually lead to more gun deaths.

In Davos, Mr Bolsonaro - who enjoys support among evangelical groups - also reaffirmed his commitment to defend "family values" and attacked left-wing politics in Latin America, saying it would not prevail in the region.

He also vowed to tackle corruption without mentioning a scandal about suspicious payments involving his politician son, Flavio, who denies wrongdoing.

Who is the far-right leader?

Despite portraying himself as a political outsider during his campaign, Mr Bolsonaro served seven terms in Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, before being elected president.

He has been a member of several political parties but is currently in the Social Liberal Party (PSL), which has grown from having a tiny presence in Congress to becoming the party with the second largest number of deputies in the lower house.

Before becoming a politician, Mr Bolsonaro served in Brazil's military, where he was a paratrooper and rose to the rank of captain.

During his time as a lawmaker, Mr Bolsonaro represented the interests of the armed forces and has named several former military men to head key ministries.

He has also expressed nostalgia for the time when Brazil was under military rule and the hard-line policies enforced during the period, which saw thousands jailed and tortured.

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