Brazil’s poor react to provisional government, possible cuts to social programs

Latin America

The ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to face impeachment charges effectively ends 13 years of rule by the leftist Workers Party. And with provisional President Michel Temer signaling a shift to the right, many of the current social programs have come under fire.

CCTV’s Paulo Cabral reports.

Brazil\'s poor react to provisional government, possible cuts to social programs

The ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to face impeachment charges effectively ends 13 years of rule by the leftist Workers Party. And, with provisional President Michel Temer signaling a shift to the right, many of the current social programs have come under fire. CCTV's Paulo Cabral reports.

Brazil’s planned capital city, Brasilia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its futuristic architecture and boasts the highest per capita income in the country.

But a twenty minute drive from the center of power is enough to reveal Brazil’s deep social inequalities, visible in the slums that exist on the outskirts of Brasilia, like the Santa Luzia community.

About 6,000 families live here, most of them in wooden shacks without sanitation and linked to the electric grid through creative improvisation.

Many rely on government social programs like the Bolsa Familia – the family wage – that provides a minimum income for those who keep their children in school. And they fear the impact that the political crisis and change in government could have on their benefits.

“We get some money every month from the family income program and this money is extremely important for us, particularly now that I am unemployed,” Raquel do Santos said. “So my family and other families feel afraid when we hear that the government needs to cut expenses because this could hit our income.”

The new Brazilian interim government said that the social programs created over the last few years will not be cut. But people here don’t seem so sure about it. Many said that past experiences show that whenever there is an austerity program, the poorest are often the hardest hit.

The president of the Santa Luzia Community Association said this would seriously affect the lives of thousands of people in need.

“The chain always breaks at its weakest link and that’s us. So when we hear that expense cuts are needed we immediately think that this will impact social programs like the student loans and family income initiatives. And these are programs that have worked very well and are extremely important for poor communities like ours,” Adairton da Paz Costa, president of the Santa Luzia Community Association, said.

The government said the country needs to make tough adjustments to get back to growth and prepare for a more prosperous future. But in places like Santa Luzia, the focus remains on surviving today.