Snapshot: Lula’s pick to lead Brazil’s communications ministry

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, December 29, 2022
Snapshot: Lula’s pick to lead Brazil’s communications ministry

President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has opted to give a place in his cabinet to a member of a right-leaning political party rather than someone from his own Workers Party (PT).

The communications ministry will now be headed by federal lawmaker Juscelino Filho, from Maranhão state, who belongs to the União Brasil party, which might provide vital support for Lula in congress. 

União Brasil was part of the base of support for President Jair Bolsonaro's government. It did not back Lula during the election campaign, instead choosing to remain neutral in the October runoff. 

Indeed, federal judge Sérgio Moro, who sentenced Lula to prison for alleged corruption, was elected as a senator for the União Brasil party in this year's election. Lula's sentence was subsequently quashed.

The announcement of the last of Lula's ministers, including 16 new names, was made on Thursday by the president-elect, just days before his January 1 inauguration.


Filho is a doctor specialized in radiology and diagnostic imaging. In politics he occupied the post of assistant secretary to the government of Maranhão state, among other positions. He was first elected as a federal lawmaker in 2015.

Of the bills or initiatives he has presented in congress, almost none are directly related to the communications area.

In 2018, Filho presented a proposal to amend the constitution "to institute research actions in all ministries, [with a] minimum application of resources to research, development and innovation actions, and to ban the block on the budget for RD&I."

News of the appointment will be music to the ears of telecom operators, given his liberal profile.

PT lawmaker Paulo Teixeira, one of Lula's staunchest allies, had been rumored to take over at the ministry. A member of the 'socialist resistance' group in the party, he is currently a federal lawmaker for São Paulo.

An executive from the communications sector told BNamericas on condition of anonymity that the possibility of a more left-leaning PT name at the helm of the ministry, even if relatively well qualified and knowledgeable about the area like Teixeira, was seen as a concern with respect to possible “abrupt U-turns” in the ministry's programs.

On the other hand, other entities in the communications sector have expressed opposition to the choice of a União Brasil member or the suggestion of other right-leaning politicians to lead the ministry.

While recognizing that the political makeup of the new administration will be key for governance, they say that an important ministry like communications should not be headed by a party that supported Bolsonaro.


The communications ministry is responsible for formulating policy on telecommunications, broadcasting and managing mail and logistics services state-run company Correios.

Correios was one of the public companies listed for privatization by the Bolsonaro government, but it was eventually unable to take the process forward. Under Lula, Correios is expected to remain state-owned. 

The same goes for state-run telco Telebrás and Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), both of which are linked to the communications ministry and were intended to be privatized by Bolsonaro.

In 2023, Brazil will see 5G networks expanded beyond state capitals, starting in January with those with more than 500,000 inhabitants.

The main issues for the ministry next year include talks on the regulation and taxation of big tech firms, updates to legal frameworks related to social networks, taxation of OTT companies and the formulation of a public policy to expand access to internet and devices for low-income families.

These latter two topics are on the wish-list of telecom operators.

Vivien Suruagy, president of Feninfra, the association of call centers companies and firms that install and maintain telecommunications and IT network infrastructure, said in a statement that the new government's "primary responsibility is to adopt public policies aimed at economic growth and job creation, with digital and social inclusion."

According to Suruagy, it is necessary to prioritize "essential reforms," such as the overhaul of the tax framework, reduce costs for the productive sector and generate a favorable business environment in the country.

“The telecommunications sector, for its part, will continue to invest to expand the sector, generating new jobs and making its contribution to the country's development”, said Suruagy.

Picture source: Juscelino Filho's website

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