Brazil to See Restoration of Culture Ministry Under President-Elect Lula

Janice K. Johnson

Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is expected to reinstate the country’s culture ministry, which was dismantled by his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, in 2019. The Art Newspaper notes that Lula, as the once and future leader is nicknamed, made the promise to restore the ministry a part of his campaign platform. He also vowed to increase funding to the Rouanet Law, a federal tax incentive to provide monies to cultural endeavors that saw funding cut by more than 50 percent under Bolsonaro, who publicly demonized it as promoting corruption.

Lula is also tasked with selecting a new secretary of culture. The leftist politician—who recently wrested the presidency from the far-right Bolsonaro by a narrow margin in a runoff after serving more than a year in prison on corruption charges—previously led the country from 2003 to 2010. Legendary Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil served as culture secretary during both of Lula’s terms in office. Though the president-elect has not yet announced a choice, rumored contenders include singers Daniela Mercury and Chico César and the politicians Jandira Feghali, Manoel Rangel, and Juca Ferreira, all of whom are experienced cultural project managers.

The role of culture secretary has been something of a hot potato since Bolsonaro’s 2019 election: His first pick, Henrique Medeiros Pires, departed in 2019 in protest of the conservative government’s alleged censorship of LGBTQ television productions. The right-wing president’s second choice, bank executive Ricardo Braga, stayed on the job just two months before being reassigned to the Ministry of Education. Bolsonaro was forced to fire his third pick, Roberto Alvim, in 2020 after the former theater director posted to his Twitter account a video in which he quoted Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels while announcing a new National Arts Award. Conservative actress Regina Duarte, most widely known for her telenovela roles in the 1970s and ’80s, was the fourth person to fill the position under Bolsonaro.

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