Brasília — Paulo Guedes touches a finger to his temple. “People from the left have soft heads and good hearts,” he says. “People from the right have hard heads, and …” He searches for the correct phrase. “Not-so good hearts.” It is a moment of candour for Brazil’s “super economics minister”, given that the president he works for, Jair Bolsonaro, is a right wing former army captain viewed internationally as something of a proto-fascist with a fondness for military dictatorship. It is also indicative of the breadth of Guedes’s views, and his belief that Bolsonaro is not the extremist bogeyman he is often viewed as abroad. “We are creating a Popperian open society,” he says, one of several times he recalls the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper — who advocated dynamic liberal democracy — during a wide-ranging conversation with the FT in his Brasília office. “If Bolsonaro is rough in his manners, it’s just an appearance. He will get rough on the bad guys,” he adds, citing the 64,000 murde...

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