Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff named on Thursday lawmaker Mendes Ribeiro as new Minister of Agriculture. The member of Congress from the farming state of Rio Grande do Sul replaces Wagner Rossi who stepped down Wednesday following strong allegations of corruption and irregularities.
“On request from President Dilma Rousseff, who is currently travelling, I am entitled to inform that federal lawmaker Mendes Ribeiro will take over the post of Minister of Agriculture. The invitation became official this morning during talks between the president and the deputy. On return from her trip, tomorrow in Brasilia, the president and the new minister will have their first official meeting”, said cabinet chief Gelisi Hoffmann at the Planalto Palace Thursday mid day.
Mendes Ribeiro belongs to PMDB, the strongest party in Brazil which has control over the Senate and is a crucial partner of President Rousseff’s Workers Party coalition. Without PMDB any legislation can be blocked in Congress. Outgoing Rossi also belonged to PMDB.
Respecting PMDB ministerial post in Agriculture will help ease tensions between the two main partners (WP and PMDB) of the ruling coalition which in the last three months has seen the ousting of four members and several top officials from political posts.
Earlier in the morning the head of PMDB in the Lower House Henrique Eduardo Alves had advanced in his twitter that President Rousseff had accepted the name of Ribeiro as the next Agriculture minister.
“Mendes Riberio will be the new Agriculture minister. The name is an indication from PMDB in the Lower House. The name was taken to Vice president Michel Temer (PMDB) who then considered the issue with President Dilma, who approved his nomination” anticipated Alves.
He also revealed that Vice president Temer had talked about Ribeiro’s name on Wednesday evening with President Rousseff.
Ribeiro is not only one of the leading ruling coalition members in the Lower House but also a personal friend of Ms Rousseff whom she knows from the time she was involved in Workers party activities in Rio Grande do Sul. He is also a close associate of Vice- President Temer, as is outgoing minister Rossi.
Temer revealed that before deciding on Ribeiro four names were on the table. “We considered four or five names. The new minister has an impeccable record as had Minister Wagner Rossi”.
Ribeiro apparently has long been in the list of ministerial lawmakers of President Rousseff but there has always been an obstacle which will have to be accepted now; as Ribeiro becomes minister, his bench in the Lower House will be filled by Eliseu Padilla.
The problem is that Rio Grande do Sul Workers Party has always been against such an alternative since Padilla campaigned against Dilma in the last election. To avoid further irritation the Brazilian executive talked the issue over with Tarso Genro, Rio Grande do Sul governor and member of the Workers Party.
Mendes Ribeiro on the other hand was one of the few PMDB members in the southern state to openly work and campaign for Dilma president.