Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the World Economic Forum at Davos on Tuesday, where he declared the country open for business while criticizing the policies and corruption of previous socialist administrations.
In what proved to be a short keynote address, the Brazilian leader made a pitch designed to excite foreign investors by promising to reduce the “heavy hand” of the state after years of sluggish growth and an economic crisis that saw skyrocketing unemployment and extensive civil unrest.
“I took office amid a great ethical, moral, and economic crisis,” he declared. “I want to introduce to all of you the new Brazil we are building. We are committed to changing our history.”
“We will work to lower the tax burden, streamline rules and make life easier for those who want to produce and do business as entrepreneurs, invest and create jobs,” he continued. “We shall work to foster economic stability while respecting and honoring contracts … and balancing government accounts.”
Bolsonaro also spoke of his country’s extraordinary natural beauty and declared it his “mission to make progress in harmonizing environmental preservation and biodiversity, with much needed economic development.”
The 63-year-old former army captain also took aim at the left-wing governments that have dominated Latin America over the past two decades but have failed to keep power in recent years with the election of right-leaning governments in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Paraguay.
“We do not want to have a Bolivarian type of Latin America, as was the case in Brazil under previous administrations,” he said. “I believe that this new wave of interacting with South American countries has had a contagion effect – more center, center-right leaders have been successfully elected in these neighboring countries.”
“I believe this is a clear cut response indicating that the left wing will not prevail in that region, which is a very good development in my view, not only for Latin America but for the rest of the world,” he continued. Left-wing regimes continue to prevail in neighboring Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, all of which Bolsonaro has pledged to push back against by forming a global coalition against communism.
Bolsonaro’s speech was written and revised by his economy minister, Paulo Guedes, a U.S.-educated free marketeer. It reportedly aimed to give “the broadest message possible of the new Brazil that is presenting itself, with our arrival in power.” The trip to Switzerland was Bolsonaro’s first as the Brazilian leader. U.S. officials have previously indicated that he would visit Washington early in 2019 for a meeting with President Donald Trump.