White male cabinet raises fears of backsliding in diverse Brazil

To the people who benefited most from the long, recently truncated rule of Brazil’s leftist Workers Party, the look of the successor government could not be more disheartening.

Whereas cabinet posts over the past 13 years were often filled by women and blacks, new Interim President Michel Temer last week presented a group of 23 ministers that looked a lot like him – white, male and mostly old.

“I am not represented,” says Bruno Leão, a 24-year-old business student in Rio de Janeiro, who is part of a generation of black Brazilians who earned unprecedented access to education and other socioeconomic gains because of Workers Party policies.

“All those years of struggle and it’s like it didn’t happen,” he adds, noting that advances in civil rights, education and purchasing power remain tenuous.

Temer, a 75-year-old centrist and constitutional scholar, took over the presidency after the Senate forced the suspension of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first woman leader, by voting on Thursday to put her on trial for breaking budget laws.

Most Brazilians backed Rousseff’s impeachment but in one of the world’s biggest racial and cultural melting pots, where more than half the 200 million people identify themselves as black or mixed, the makeup of Temer’s government raised alarm.

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