(Reuters) – Brazil’s presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro would tackle chronic energy shortages by expanding nuclear and hydroelectric power in the Amazon despite environmental concerns, the adviser overseeing his infrastructure plans told Reuters.
Oswaldo Ferreira, one of several retired generals advising Bolsonaro, said, if he were elected, the government would also complete Brazil’s corruption-plagued Angra 3 nuclear power station on the coast between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
He said a Bolsonaro administration would complete the massive Belo Monte hydro dam on the Xingú river, a tributary of the Amazon, which has been criticized for displacing indigenous communities and causing damage to the sensitive biome. Shelved plans for other dams in the Amazon basin could also be revived, he said.
Far-right Bolsonaro easily outpaced his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in Sunday’s first-round vote, taking 46 percent compared to Haddad’s 29 percent, but short of the majority needed to avoid an Oct.28 runoff. A Wednesday poll showed Bolsonaro 16 percentage points ahead.
At a press conference yesterday in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro confirmed that Chicago University-trained economist Paulo Guedes would be his economy minister, overseeing a “super ministry” combining the current finance, planning and development ministries. He also said retired army general Augusto Heleno Pereira would be defense minister and conservative congressman Onyx Lorenzoni his chief of staff.
Private investors would be called on to help build the infrastructure Brazil badly needs, Ferreira said. The country is one of the world’s top food exporters, but the poor state of roads and lack of railways makes getting goods to ports slow and expensive.
Popular with Brazil’s powerful evangelical and farming lobbies, Bolsonaro, 63, has pledged to pull Brazil out of the Paris Agreement climate deal due to disagreements over how the Amazon should be protected.
His top agriculture adviser, Nabhan Garcia, told Reuters on Tuesday that Bolsonaro’s government would slash fines for farmers who break environmental laws in sensitive areas like the Amazon rainforest.