“Commenting on the current crisis and its impact on the poorest Brazilians, ex-President Lula hit the nail on the head last week saying “instead of eating meat every day, they’re going to eat rice”.
This has already occurred in some regions of the country where inflation quickly erodes the amount of benefits like Bolsa Familia and income levels, increasingly rare. Inflation for the poorest households (with income equal to 2.5 minimum salaries) runs at over 11% per year. Domestic demand saw a decrease of 4% in four quarters.
“If we could eat a carcass, we would. If we can’t, we eat puro (probably a typo where it should say purée) with pepper”, says Iranildo Souza, husband of Maria Vanessa and father of Patrícia, 7, and Tauane, 4. Last week, their youngest split a pot of plain rice and beans with his cousin in the neighborhood of João de Deus, in Petrolina.
The main income for the Souzas comes from the Bolsa Família: R$209 per month (US$53/mo). “Last year, I worked all year in the mango fields. This year, I probably didn’t even reach 4 months”, says Iranildo.
Next door, Maria Gonçalves gets R$400 (US$102) from the Bolsa Família for her four daughters. It’s the family’s only income. “If it weren’t for this money, we wouldn’t have a pot to piss in.”
Meat & Electricity
The largest complaint from the two families is with inflation, which took meat off the table and increased the electricity bill.
In Petrolina, 31.6K families receive welfare (a total of R$4.9 million per year). “The program here was fundamental for the drop in inequality”, said Célia Regina Carvalho, Secretary of Social Development. Other federal programs already saw cuts. The R$100 scholarships at Pronatec, for example, fell from 2,000 to 600 this year.
In Recife, the neighborhood of Brasília Teimosa was a pioneer in the Zero Hunger program, which would later become the Bolsa Família. Recently elected, Lula went to the locale in 2003 with 29 ministers to launch the program.
Apart from distributing income more equally there, his government sponsered the removal of 500 families that lived in stilt houses and reurbanized the entire coastline of the neighborhood. Today, merchants complain about the recession and the stilt homes made a comeback in another spot. Conducive to the proliferation of Aedes aegypti, dozens of the residents’ freshwater containers are also part of the landscape.” – Source (PT)