Power

Bolsonaro’s ‘secret weapon’ dead on arrival

The president planned to "steal" low-income voters from the left with his own cash-transfer program — but his plan flopped before it was even launched

President Jair Bolsonaro and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR
President Jair Bolsonaro and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

During the 2018 campaign and until this year, President Jair Bolsonaro came across as one of those politicians who believe the state should not give handouts to its citizens. He once compared the world-renowned Bolsa Família cash-transfer initiative to a vote-for-cash graft, saying it amounted to “nothing more than taking money from those who produce and hand it to those who are lazy, so people would keep the status quo.”

 As a candidate, he promised to audit the program and refused to rule out shutting it down. During his first year in office, Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration cut Bolsa Família...

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