Bolsonaro: Education minister pick not due to pressure from evangelicals


Brazil's president-elect denied Saturday that his choice for education minister had been the result of pressure from his evangelical supporters.

Jair Bolsonaro said Ricardo Velez, a Colombian-born naturalized Brazilian citizen, was the right person to head that ministry because he would put the interests of Brazil above those of his own political party.

Speaking about the appointment after attending a ceremony to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the Brazilian army's Paratroopers Brigade, Bolsonaro said he was certain Velez would ensure that values such as respect for the family and the fatherland - as opposed to "gender ideology" - are promoted in the country's classrooms.

The phrase "gender ideology" is used by conservatives in Latin America to criticize what they perceive as efforts to indoctrinate students with left-wing politics and undermine traditional family and religious values.

Velez was named after many evangelicals had criticized one possible choice for that ministry - Mozart Neves Ramos, the director of the Ayrton Senna Institute and former president of the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Separately, Bolsonaro denied Saturday that a group of Venezuelans who have taken refuge in the poor, remote northwestern Brazilian state of Roraima would be forcibly returned to their homeland.

He added, however, that controls would be put in place to halt the indiscriminate entry of people from that country, which is currently racked by a severe economic and political crisis.

"They're not goods or bills to be returned," Bolsonaro told the reporters. "There needs to be a control regime for those people who are fleeing hunger and dictatorship, but there are also people who we don't want in Brazil."

Bolsonaro's public appearance on Saturday came a day after medical tests were performed on the president-elect in Sao Paulo.

The rightist politician had been scheduled to undergo surgery on Dec. 12 to remove a colostomy bag, which was attached after he was stabbed in the abdomen during a campaign rally on Sept. 6.

But the results of the tests prompted doctors to postpone the surgery until after his Jan. 1 inauguration.

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