With Re-Election Hopes Bleak, Bolsonaro Bets On Privatising Petrobras

With Re-Election Hopes Bleak, Bolsonaro Bets On Privatising Petrobras

With hopes of re-election bleak, Jair Bolsonaro now tries to unify international capital and supporters of the 2016 coup around his candidacy with a final throw of the dice: a fast-track privatisation of Petrobras and delivery of Brazil’s massive oil wealth to the foreign corporations which originally backed his presidencyBolsonaro’s new Mines and Energy Minister Adolfo Sachsida says privatisation is his priority, as Lula vows to reverse any sell-offs after the election.

Incoming Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida has announced that he will work towards the privatisation of both state controlled oil and gas company Petrobras and Pre-Sal Petróleo SA, the entity responsible for managing the Brazil’s pre-sal (subsalt) exploration contracts.

The coveted pre-sal offshore oil deposits were discovered by the state oil company during Lula’s second presidential term and was once called Brazil’s “passport to the future”, earmarked by Dilma Rousseff for investment in public education and health.

One of the first acts of the interim government of Michel Temer following Rousseff’s removal in 2016 was to break the so called “pre-sal law” which guaranteed Petrobras involvement in all exploitation of the oil and gas fields. Breaking the pre-sal law was a long term objective of the US State Department and International Petroleum interests, as represented by lobby Council of the Americas, home to Chevron and ExxonMobil. Disgraced US-Brazil anticorruption operation Lava Jato‘s primary target was Petrobras, which has been severely damaged and asset stripped since the operation began in 2014. Lava Jato worked to bring down Dilma Rousseff, and jailed 2018 election frontrunner Lula, opening the door to the Bolsonaro presidency.

Sachsida said that the final privatisation of Petrobras, one of Brazil’s economic engines and a symbol of its sovereignty, created by then president Getulio Vargas shortly before his death in the 1950s, will be his first act as minister. The minister insists he will immediately set studies in motion on how to achieve full privatisation of the state controlled mixed capital company as quickly as possible.

“My first act as a minister will be to ask [Economy] Minister Paulo Guedes, chairman of the PPI [Investment Partnerships Program] Council, to take to the council the inclusion of PPSA in the PND [National Privatisation Program] to evaluate the alternatives for its privatisation,” said Sachsida.

“As part of my first act, I will also request the beginning of studies aimed at proposing the legislative changes necessary for the privatisation of Petrobras”, he added.

The minister also indicated that he intends to privatise state energy firm Eletrobras. A project that has already been widely condemned, and denounged by former President Lula  in recent speeches as treasonous.

“Eletrobras was built over decades, with the sweat and intelligence of generations of Brazilians. But the current government does everything to sell it off it at a bargain price. The result of this crime against the homeland would be the loss of our energy sovereignty. Defending our sovereignty is also defending Eletrobrás from those who want Brazil to be eternally submissive”, said Lula In his speech to launch the “Vamos Juntos pelo Brasil” coalition behind his presidential candidacy.

Journalist Leonardo Attuch, editor of Brasil 247, said that the privatisation of state-owned companies is “Bolsonaro’s last gambit to unify capital and all the coup plotters of 2016 around his candidacy.”

At a rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Lula denounced the privatisation of Brazilian public companies: “I want to take advantage of the humanism that reigns in this room, the democratic warmth in this room, and say to the government and to businessmen: stop privatising public companies”.

In a signal that an incoming Workers Party government intends to reverse such privatisations, Lula said that “whoever begins to buy Petrobras will have to talk to us after the election. Stop trying to privatise Eletrobras. Stop privatising Correios, Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica, BNDES, BnB. Learn to work, invest and make economic policy instead of selling things that are already ready”.

Lula is maintaining double figure leads over Bolsonaro in polls for the October election, whose pre-campaign has begun under a shadow of threats from the far right president and his military backers.

Based on an original report by 247.


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