Ricardo Salles

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Ricardo Salles
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
Assumed office
1 February 2023
ConstituencySão Paulo
Minister of the Environment
In office
1 January 2019 – 23 June 2021
PresidentJair Bolsonaro
Preceded byEdson Duarte
Succeeded byJoaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite
State Secretary of the Environment of São Paulo
In office
18 July 2016 – 28 August 2017
GovernorGeraldo Alckmin
Preceded byPatricia Iglecias
Succeeded byMauricio Brusadin
Personal details
Ricardo de Aquino Salles

(1975-06-08) 8 June 1975 (age 48)
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Political partyPL (2022–present)
Other political
  • DEM (2006–11)
  • PSDB (2011–16)
  • PSL (2016–17)
  • PP (2017–18)
  • NOVO (2018–20)
Alma materMackenzie Presbyterian University

Ricardo de Aquino Salles (born 8 June 1975) is a Brazilian politician who has served as Minister of the Environment from 1 January 2019 to 23 June 2021, under President Jair Bolsonaro.[1]

Salles previously served as a secretary to São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and the state's secretary of the environment.[2]


Ricardo Salles was born in Morumbi, São Paulo to a family of lawyers. He received his law degree from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, did postgraduate studies at the universities of Coimbra and Lisbon, and studied business administration at Fundação Getúlio Vargas.[3] For almost seven years, it was believed that Salles held a master's degree from Yale. In 2019, after Yale confirmed that Salles never studied there, he then alleged that the information was incorrectly provided by an aide.[4][5]

In 2006 Salles co-founded the Movimento Endireita Brasil (literally "Straighten Brazil Movement" and a pun for “Become more Right-Wingy Brazil”).[1] The movement opposed the presidencies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, and supports economic liberalism. Salles was a candidate for state deputy in 2010 as a member of the Democrats (DEM), receiving 25,000 votes but failing to be elected.[6] He was a candidate for federal deputy in the 2018 elections, but was once again not elected, receiving 36,603 votes (0.17% of all valid votes).[7]

Since 2017, Salles is the subject of a probe by São Paulo state prosecutors for violating environmental laws. He is accused of altering the management plan for a protected area in the Tietê River with the "clear intention of benefiting economic sectors"; Salles has maintained his innocence and said that the evidence of the case "corroborates his position".[8] He is also being investigated for possible administrative misconduct for ordering the removal of a bust of Carlos Lamarca from the Rio Turvo State Park in São Paulo, during his tenure as state environmental secretary.[9]

Despite President Bolsonaro's critical statements on the Paris Agreement, Salles defended that Brazil should remain in the accord, while adding that the country "must be allowed to retain its autonomy when making environmental decisions".[10] Salles has been criticized both in Brazil and internationally for relaxing regulations in favor of economic interests of the country's agribusiness, increasing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and aggravating its consequences, like the 2019 wildfires, which prompted many calls for his resignation.[11][12]

In June 2021, Salles resigned amid multiple investigations regarding allegations that he obstructed a police probe into illegal loggings.[13]


  1. ^ Mazui, Guilherme; Lara, Walace (9 December 2018). "Bolsonaro indica ex-secretário de Alckmin para comandar Ministério do Meio Ambiente" (in Portuguese). G1. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  2. ^ Vinhal, Gabriela (9 December 2018). "Bolsonaro anuncia Ricardo Salles para o Ministério do Meio Ambiente" (in Portuguese). Correio Braziliense. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Ricardo Salles" (in Portuguese). Um Brasil. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  4. ^ Demori, Leandro (23 February 2019). "Quem inventou a mentira de que o ministro Ricardo Salles estudou em Yale?" (in Portuguese). The Intercept Brasil. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  5. ^ Amaral, Ana Carolina (26 February 2019). "Ministro do Meio Ambiente não estudou em Yale" (in Portuguese). Folha de S. Paulo. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Jovens de São Paulo fundam grupo para "endireitar" o país" (in Portuguese). Folha de S. Paulo. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Ricardo Salles 3006 (NOVO)" (in Portuguese). Gazeta do Povo. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  8. ^ Jucá, Beatriz (9 December 2018). "Um investigado por fraude ambiental comandará Meio Ambiente sob Bolsonaro" (in Portuguese). El País. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  9. ^ Carvalho, Cleide (10 December 2018). "Futuro ministro do Meio Ambiente é investigado por mandar tirar busto de Lamarca de parque em SP" (in Portuguese). O Globo. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  10. ^ Gabbatiss, Josh (11 December 2018). "Brazil's new environment minister says country should stay in Paris Agreement despite climate sceptic president Bolsonaro". The Independent (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  11. ^ Gabbatiss, Josh (1 October 2020). "Brazil Is Burning—and President Bolsonaro's 'Terminator' Environment Minister Is Rolling Back More Protections" (in Portuguese). Time Magazine. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  12. ^ Camila Belizário Ribeiro; Maria Clotilde Almeida (28 July 2021). ""Passando a boiada": aspectos dialógicos e interdiscursivos em textos relacionados ao discurso do Ministro do Meio Ambiente Ricardo Salles". Revista de Estudos da Linguagem (in Portuguese). 29 (4): 2335–2366. doi:10.17851/2237-2083.29.4.2335-2366. ISSN 0104-0588. Wikidata Q108064009.
  13. ^ Pedroso, Rodrigo (23 June 2021). "Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles resigns amid Amazon illegal logging probe". CNN. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
Political offices
Preceded by
Patricia Iglecias
State Secretary of the Environment of São Paulo
Succeeded by
Mauricio Brusadin
Preceded by
Edson Duarte
Minister of the Environment
Succeeded by
Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite