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Actress says she will be Brazil's culture chief

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Brasília (AFP)

An actress known for decades of work in soap operas said Wednesday she has agreed to become Brazil's secretary for culture.

Regina Duarte, 72, made the announcement to reporters as she left the presidential palace.

In taking the job offer from President Jair Bolsonaro, Duarte will replace a man fired over a speech that included lines seeming to quote Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

"Yes, I accepted," Duarte said of the new position.

Duarte's name has been circulating for some time, but she kept mum after visiting the culture secretariat headquarters last week in Brasilia.

Culture used to have its own full-fledged ministry but Bolsonaro -- who has been called the "Trump of the tropics" for his brash style and derogatory comments about women and minorities -- downgraded it to a secretariat at the same level as sports after coming to power a year ago.

Duarte has starred in many Brazilian soap operas over the course of a TV career spanning five decades. She will be the fourth person to hold the job since Bolsonaro took office.

She is an unabashed conservative in a country where most artists are leftist.

Duarte took part in Bolsonaro rallies during the 2018 presidential campaign and once said in a speech she was with him "body and soul."

But many in the arts world expect that given her 50 year career as a performer she will be more conciliatory on culture than her predecessor, Roberto Alvim.

Alvim was fired this month over a speech in which he appeared to quote Goebbels, saying art in Brazil over the next decade would be "heroic and national."

"In the current situation of dismantling of our culture, I think Regina Duarte can help. She is rightwing but not Nazi," film producer Paula Lavigne said over the weekend.

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