Information and news on Brazil

Facts About Poverty in BrazilThough major improvements have stimulated Brazil’s economy over the past few decades, the country still faces a major poverty deficit. While the country does have one of the top 10 economies in the world, poverty in Brazil is still a major issue. The percentage of the population that lives beneath the poverty line struggles to make it from one day to the next. Four components that influence poverty in Brazil are the pertinent numbers, the unemployment situation, the influence on housing and the current global lockdown’s impact.

The Numbers

With over 200 million citizens, Brazil has the fifth largest population in the world. While the poverty rate is now impressively less than 10%, 16 million Brazilians still live unsustainable lives.

Many of the families living in poverty do not have access to education, clothing, clean water, food or fuel. Kim Lango, a humanitarian who has spent a number of years helping to relieve poverty in Brazil, told The Borgen Project in an interview that “We once drove a Pre-Med student home one evening only to discover his home only had three walls….” On their way to the house, Lango passed by dead and wounded people on the streets who were waiting for an ambulance that would only come if the family had sufficient funds.

According to a Getulio Vargas Foundation study, an alarming gap exists between the wealthy and poor, and it is increasing. Marcelo Silva de Sousa and Víctor Caivano state that Brazil ranks with the “most unequal nations in a broader region where the gap between rich and poor is notorious.” During the seven years of the study, the richest Brazilians increased their income by over 8%. However, the income of the poorest population decreased an entire 14%.

The gap shows Brazil’s drastic inequality. In fact, only 10% of Brazil’s citizens earn half of the income in the country.

Lango gave her perspective on some of the reasons for this gap. She first stated that “lack of access to adequate education[…] creates a vicious cycle.” Those living in unsafe and inadequate places often find themselves stuck there due to the rigor and expense of the education system. Lango also said that discrimination plays a significant role in this gap and that many consider poor people unsafe and ones they should not connect with.

While the poverty rates are startling, Lango offers hope: “the most beautiful acts of overcoming will always be from Brazilians helping their own people.”

The government has a welfare program devoted to alleviating poverty. The Family Grant, known as the Bolsa Família, offers a monthly allowance to families in poverty.

Unemployment

Another of the components that influence poverty in Brazil is unemployment. When a major recession hit between 2014 and 2016, the unemployment rate hit 13% and emerged as a major issue contributing to poverty in Brazil. While the unemployment rate had improved somewhat since then, it had yet to recover enough to significantly impact the poverty in Brazil.

Unfortunately, in 2019, Brazil’s unemployment increased to a 12.4% unemployment rate, leaving millions of Brazilians out of work and desperately searching for the means to make money. Still, the available jobs often have an informal and inconsistent nature.

According to Mark S. Langevin, Director of Brazil Works, Brazil has reached a “historic and dismal record” of citizens not contributing to the workforce. Langevin stated that the number is over 65 million.

Housing

Because of extreme poverty, many Brazilians do not have access to proper shelter, or even shelter at all. In fact, according to Habitat for Humanity, over 50 million people in Brazil do not have adequate housing. The country requires 6 to 8 million new houses to sufficiently shelter its people.

Habitat for Humanity is working to develop proper housing for those living in the slums. Due to the successful implementation of their programs, Habitat for Humanity is currently working on over 1,500 houses in Pernambuco, one of Brazil’s states.

A report determined that the 2010 census revealed that over 5% of Brazilians live in makeshift settlements called favelas. Brazilians often build favelas using materials that they scavenged. Moreover, these homes often do not have appropriate water access.

The government has been working since 1993 to improve these conditions. During that year, 20% of Brazil’s population lived in favelas, so the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro developed a program to help improve the housing and road access for those who lacked sufficiency in those areas. The program, the Favela-Bairro project, also funded social programs for children.

While some are making efforts to improve the conditions, the poor housing situation remains prevalent.

The Current Lockdown’s Impact

The last of the components that influence poverty in Brazil includes COVID-19’s impact on the country. With the current global lockdown due to Covid-19, poverty in Brazil could increase drastically. There are over 30 million informal workers who have unprotected jobs that the lockdown now threatens.

The lockdown has come at an unfortunate moment due to social program cuts that came as a result of the recession in 2014. During that time, many workers became sporadically self-employed, which severely weakened the economy.

Humanitarian groups have had to scramble to increase food programs. One of these groups, a Catholic relief group called Caritas, has oriented its focus entirely to providing food.

While those already in poverty or unpredictable work situations are facing an uncertain future, the government has begun to respond to the issue. It adapted the emergency aid fund rules to improve worker’s lives during the shutdowns. The banks have more restrictions and there has been a loan suspension for school funds.

Though the poverty here is vicious, wonderful programs, both governmental and humanitarian, are stepping up to fight the deficit. Hopefully, continued aid and government efforts will eradicate poverty in Brazil in the future.

– Abigail Lawrence
Photo: Flickr

Sustainability in Curitiba
Sporting a population of 1.9 million, Curitiba is Brazil’s eighth-largest city. Many also tout it as one of the greenest cities in the world, earning praise for its eco-friendly urban planning. Curitiba’s creative, environmentally friendly solutions to urban planning issues have been effectively alleviating poverty in the city. Curitiba has also done well curbing emissions and protecting the area’s biodiversity. This is a quick look at the story of sustainability in Curitiba, Brazil.

Background

Curitiba has had a long and rich history. From a “sleepy” city surrounded by farmland to a hub for European immigrants in the 19th century, Curitiba, the capital of Brazil’s state Parana, was long a cultural and economic center in the region. The mechanization of soybean agriculture in the 1940s was a turning point for Curitiba. Within a span of 20 years, the population of the city doubled, leaving Curitiba a hectic and polluted municipality. This changed in 1972 when Jaime Lerner became mayor of Curitiba and instituted his plan for a sustainable city.

Sustainable Solutions

  1. Bus Rapid Transit System: One of the biggest innovations that Curitiba put in place was a bus rapid transit system. Roads with express lanes for buses, specially designed buses for quick boarding and cheap and uniform ticket prices have helped Curitiba maintain a quick, cheap and low-emission transit system. Streets that the city allocated for pedestrians only and designated bike lanes have also contributed to this.
  2. Green Space: Since the 1970s, Curitiba has planted 1.5 million trees and built 28 public parks. To combat flooding which had previously assaulted the city, Curitiba surrounded the urban area with fields of grass, saving itself the cost and environmental expense of dams. To maintain the fields, the city uses sheep rather than mechanical means, saving its money and oil while providing manure for farmers and wool.
  3. Recycling: Curitiba recycles around 70 percent of its garbage thanks to a program that allows for the exchange of bus tokens, notebooks and food in return for recycling. Not only does this protect the environment, but it also boosts education, increases food access and facilitates transport for the city’s poor.
  4. Education: Curitiba houses the Free University for the Environment, which empowers the city’s poor and teaches them about sustainability. Signs and information panels provide citizens with information about the city’s green design. Encouraging a culture of pride around sustainability and promoting knowledge helps to maintain the city’s greenness.

Population and Poverty

Not only has Curitiba’s creative urban planning helped it become one of the world’s leading green cities, but it has also resulted in poverty alleviation and population growth. Its 30-year economic growth rate is 3.1 percent higher than the national average, and its per-capita income is 66 percent higher. In the last 60 years, the population of Curitiba has increased by 1,000 percent to a staggering 2 million people due to this. With such a quick population rise and migrant population, one would expect a great deal of wealth inequality and poverty within Curitiba. Indeed, 10 to 15 percent of Curitiba’s population lives in substandard housing. However, this is a trend that Brazil’s other large cities and affordable housing plans match. The city’s above par per-capita income is also evidence of this. These numbers are likely to lower and help Curitiba continue its mission of poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.

Ronin Berzins
Photo: Flickr

Health conditions in Brazil
Over the years, the Brazilian government has improved the provision of health care for citizens. However, challenges have persisted in terms of the quality of care provided. In response, the government and other NGOs have taken various steps to improve health conditions in Brazil. These steps include reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations.

Reaching the Favelas

Reaching urban slums, or “favelas,” is crucial to improving health conditions. These areas are stricken with poverty and the people experience harsh living conditions. Poor health often accompanies these conditions, heavily impacting the people in favelas.

The struggles those individuals face are not new to the Brazilian government or NGOs. One NGO working to improve health conditions in Brazil, specifically among the people living in the favelas, is the Brazilian Institute for Innovations in Social Healthcare, also known as Ibiss. Initiated in 1989, Ibiss now operates 62 projects with 600 employees. One project is leprosy-awareness because many leprosy cases are concentrated within the favelas.

Ibiss has increased awareness and care by helping favela residents to organize self-treatment programs. This is significant because the course of treatment is lengthy so many of the people with leprosy stop treatment, especially in favelas.

Affordability of HIV/AIDS treatment

Brazil provides one of the best programs to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world, which has helped to improve health conditions in the nation. One way that HIV/AIDS treatment affordability has improved is through the implementation of legislation increasing access to universal antiretroviral treatments for citizens. Additional legislation has allowed Brazilian companies to produce a generic version of antiretroviral drugs to reduce high associated costs.

Statistics from 2018 show these legislative measures are improving health conditions in Brazil, specifically in HIV/AIDS patients. 66 percent of people in Brazil who had HIV and were receiving treatment.

Vaccines

In contrast, vaccine coverage in Brazil has been declining. Coverage for the first dose of measles/mumps/rubella has declined in two regions in Brazil since 2016. In Northeastern Brazil, coverage dropped from 55.8 percent to 41.9 percent. Further, in Northern Brazil, coverage dropped from 58.9 percent to 44.9 percent.

Vaccination must occur to improve health conditions in Brazil. Thankfully, the Brazilian government recently responded to an outbreak of measles in 2019 by doubling the purchase of MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccinations from the previous year. The government purchased 60.2 million MMR vaccines.

Brazil also recently launched a massive campaign to deliver yellow fever vaccinations. The government implemented these vaccines in 77 municipalities within the states of São Paulo, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. These particular municipalities were targeted because of the increased risk of an outbreak. As a result of this campaign, 53.6 percent of people were covered in São Paulo, 55.6 percent Rio de Janeiro and 55.0 percent in Bahia.

 

Despite the poor health conditions, efforts to improve health conditions in Brazil are being implemented. From new government legislation to NGO programs, improvements have been made in reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations. Moving forward, the development of a robust health system will continue to have a positive impact on the nation.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

enewable Energy in BrazilRenewable energy in Brazil is nothing new. For decades, the country has been a leader in producing some of the world’s largest quantities of ethanol, an eco-friendly fuel source for vehicles. Recently, Brazil invested in expanding their renewable energy sources by creating huge wind power plants and high-tech solar panels. This lowered the nation’s carbon emissions as well as creating countless jobs for citizens. With fewer fossil fuels being burned, air pollution becomes minimal, resulting in a healthier, happier way of life. Here are 5 facts about renewable energy in Brazil.

5 Facts About Renewable Energy in Brazil

  1. Brazillian winds can create up to 500 gigawatts of energy. Wind power is one of the ways renewable energy in Brazil is thriving. Wind power plants across the country create about 10 percent of all renewable energy used domestically. The production of wind farms is beneficial in more ways than just environmental. The turbines built along the coast create new jobs for the community while keeping city air cleaner than a coal power plant. Because of how large and powerful the turbines are, they boost the local economy while creating an overall better way of life.
  2. Globally, Brazil is the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power. As of 2018, renewable energy accounts for nearly 80 percent of all domestically produced energy in the nation. This means that after China, Brazil produces more hydroelectric power than any other country in the world. Around 65 percent of renewable energy comes from hydroelectric dams primarily along the Amazon River Basin. During times of drought or long heatwaves, other forms of renewable energy in Brazil supply the country with power. This includes solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal power, ethanol and biomass.
  3. All gasoline in Brazil contains ethanol. Ethanol is a common vehicle power source for renewable energy in Brazil. The country began creating ethanol in 1975 during the oil crisis. In 1976, Brazil launched the Fiat 147, introducing the world’s first mass-production of a completely ethanol-powered car. Since then, it became a normal fuel option for all drivers. Oxford University describes the nation’s sugarcane-based ethanol as “the most successful fuel alternative to date.” Currently, all gasoline in Brazil is a blend of between 25 to 75 percent ethanol, as required by law since 2007. It is also common for some cars to run on ethanol exclusively.
  4. Brazil has the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy. Support for renewable energy in Brazil continues to boost the nation’s economy. Hydroelectric power from the Amazon River Basin brings huge energy surges across the country. When drought occurs, the solar panels and wind turbines provide a reliable power source. In 2008, investors all over the globe declared Brazil as the world’s first sustainable economy powered by biofuels. As the Earth’s population grows, so does the demand for electricity. Without a sustainable method of generating electric power, the supply for coal becomes limited. Once thought of as a necessity only during war, coal rations are increasing internationally, leading to power shortages.
  5. As renewable energy in Brazil becomes more technologically advanced, investors are taking note. This is notable, especially in the wind energy sector. Wind turbines are cheaper and faster to produce than hydroelectric dams. Wind power is also more reliable during heatwaves or seasonal droughts. A U.S. International Trade Administration report shows that by the end of 2020, investment in Brazillian wind power will be just over $24 billion. This huge increase in funding will continue to boost the domestic economy and is expected to set a trend for other world leaders.

Renewable energy in Brazil continues to be an example on the world stage. Through sheer numbers alone, the South American country has proven that investment in sustainable, natural power sources are economically viable and eco-friendly. Almost the entire country is powered by wind, hydroelectric, solar and ethanol sources. This trend is expected to continue as the demand for sustainability grows internationally.

Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurities Decrease Around Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America. It also has the largest economy, which has been a key contributor to agriculture and business all over Latin America. Even with improvements in income distribution, poverty remains widespread, as income inequality remains an unsolved issue at the root of rural poverty. Thirty-five percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day, which is a reason for the food insecurity in Brazil. Additionally, 19 percent of Brazil’s population lives in rural areas, which means that Brazil has 18 million poor rural people. Meanwhile, the country’s northeast region has the single largest concentration of rural poverty in Latin America. In this region alone, 58 percent of the total population and 67 percent of the rural population live in poverty.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is an important subtopic coinciding with global poverty. When someone is food insecure, it means that they lack access to enough safe and nutritious food to give them the growth and development necessary to be active and in good health. Food insecurity might include a lack of resources or availability altogether.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has implemented the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) which explains the differences between the following categories:

  • Food Security to Mild Food Insecurity is uncertainty regarding the ability to obtain food.
  • Moderate Food Insecurity is the reduced quality and/or quantity of food, as well as uncertainty about how to obtain food due to little or no money or other resources. Moderate food insecurity can also lead to malnutrition. An example of this is stunting in children, which is where they do not have adequate nutrition for necessary growth and physical development. Micronutrient deficiencies are another hazard where children do not receive enough nourishment to give them the proper nutrients they require for growth.
  • Severe Food Insecurity is when one has simply run out of food, and at the most, has gone a number of days without eating.

How Fome Zero Has Decreased Food Insecurity

Brazil, which is the largest country in South America, has been able to combat food insecurity, along with poverty, through government spending on social welfare programs. For instance, one way that poverty and food insecurities have decreased around Brazil is through Fome Zero or Zero Hunger. It launched in 2003 under President Lul da Silva and has been successful in leading the nation out of poverty and improving its food security conditions. Fome Zero has been able to provide meals that have nutritious value and can support the poor’s overall health in order to combat food insecurity in Brazil.

Stunting and Food Insecurity

From the standpoint of public policy, the program has also implemented other ways of protection for those under the poverty line. These include providing not only meals and overall health improvement but also education reform, food production, health services, water, sanitation services and the prevention of growth stunting in children under the age of 5. Stunting has resulted in malnutrition, impaired cognitive ability and declining school performance later on in their lives. With Fome Zero as a premiere social-welfare program, stunting has also declined by almost 20 percent in the last quarter-century. From 1996 to 2007, stunting reduced by half from 14 percent to 7 percent.

These improvements happened because of optimal breastfeeding practices, ensuring a child’s healthy growth and development. Initiating breastfeeding for six months provides protection against gastrointestinal infections, which can lead to severe nutrient depletion, causing the process of stunting to begin. Setting a daily diet and schedule for children, as well as diversity in diet, has improved their health and overall growth.

Stunting results from a household, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural standpoint that requires that interventions for better nutrition integrate in conjunction with nutrition-sensitive interventions. One example is that one can prevent infections by hand-washing with soap, the success of which depends on behavior change to adopt the practice, the availability of safe water and sanitation needs and the affordability of personal hygiene products. Available high-quality foods and affordability of nutrient-rich foods will affect a family’s ability to provide healthier foods to prevent stunting.

Bolsa Familia

Another program that da Silva started in 2003 is Bolsa Familia, or Family Allowance, which has helped decrease poverty and food insecurity in Brazil. The conditional cash transfer program supplies low-income families with a minimum level of income. However, there are two stipulations that go with the deal: their children must attend school daily and they must schedule doctor’s appointments in order to receive aid from the government. More than 20 percent of Brazil’s global domestic program went towards education, health care and protection for all low-income families. From 2003 to 2013, the extreme poverty line population has decreased from 9.7 percent to 4.3, with Bolsa Familia reaching 14 million households, equaling 50 million people. As such, many consider the program to be the most successful in the world.

More than 50 million people receive payments from the program. This depends on family earnings that range from $14 to $140, whether people work part-time or full-time, as well as the number of dependents. As the largest conditional cash transfer in the world, Bolsa Familia reaches more than a quarter of the nation’s population and has lifted more than half out of poverty.

BF has also started a trend globally that has expanded conditional cash transfer programs, alongside Latin America, where over 40 countries have adopted this model to aid those on the poverty line and who are food insecure. Brazil’s next step to put a halt to poverty included the Brazil Learning Initiative for a World without Poverty (WWP), launched in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, Ipea and UNDP’s International Policy Center in 2013. The Initiative helped support continuous innovation.

The endgame of these program developments is to sustain, if not overachieve, in providing aid to families in Brazil. The levels of success and vast improvements of these programs have helped the country come close to eradicating food insecurity in Brazil, as well as poverty.

Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and a key player in the international sphere. Despite its power and influence, there are still human rights issues prevalent in Brazil’s population. Human trafficking affects a significant portion of the 211 million people living in the country. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Due to recent urbanization in Brazil, many industries, such as textile companies, are exploiting undocumented workers, especially those from neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. Undocumented workers are not the only victims of human trafficking in Brazil, however, as women and children are in situations of forced labor or prostitution. Between the years of 2010 and 2017, Brazil had over 500 cases of forced sexual exploitation, stemming from the country’s severe income inequality. Since 2005, Brazil’s government has made efforts to reduce the income gap, but since over 70 percent of those in forced labor situations are illiterate, these efforts have yet to impact the high rates of human trafficking in Brazil.
  2. Traffickers are taking women from their homes in small villages. The NGO Rede Um Grito pela Vida, which translates to A Cry for Life Network, reports that criminal organizations are taking females from their homes in small villages along the Amazon. The traffickers tell these women that they will have a better life involving work or education. Furthermore, criminal organizations usually move them to other Brazilian cities. The traffickers commonly place these women into roles of forced sexual exploitation.
  3. The U.S. Department of State has commended the efforts of the Brazilian government in its work towards ending human trafficking in the country. Such work includes convicting more traffickers, investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases and identifying more victims of “trabalho escravo,” or unpaid labor. Although each state’s reported data varies, Brazil remains a “tier 2” country, meaning that it is working in the right direction, but still has a long way to go to decrease human trafficking at an effective rate.
  4. In 2019, Brazilian authorities brought down a human trafficking ring that specifically targetted transgender women. At least 38 transgender women were working in brothels in the state of Sao Paulo, where traffickers were holding them due to the debts they owed for undergoing illegal transitional surgeries. The importance of this case involves the distinction between sex work and the exploitation of sex workers. Sex work is legal in Brazil. However, the exploitation of sex workers blurs the line between human trafficking and legal employment.
  5. The Ministry of Labor implemented the use of “Special Mobile Inspection Groups” with the aim of spotting forced labor in rural areas. It does this by performing unannounced inspections in farms and factories. Between the years of 1995 and 2017, there have been over 53,000 successful rescues of forced laborers in Brazil through the efforts of these inspection groups.
  6. According to the Digital Observatory of Slavery Labour in Brazil, government agencies rescued over 35,000 people from slave labor between 2003 and 2017. The Federal Police performed many of the rescue missions in the form of raids on groups that utilize human trafficking. These raids, in particular, focused individuals who had to provide labor for no cost to their captors.
  7. Although there are many kinds of human trafficking, a common type of modern slavery inside Brazil is forced labor. Forced labor is prevalent in rural areas. It focuses on industries that require field labor, such as cattle ranching, coffee production and forestry. About 7 million domestic workers in Brazil are victims of forced labor. This means they work long hours, suffer abuse and receive little to no pay.
  8. There are many NGOs working to provide legal and social assistance to victims of human trafficking in Brazil and its neighboring countries. The GLO.ACT, an initiative that the E.U. and the U.N. support, began its efforts in Nicaragua, and since then expanded to providing assistance to over 100 participants from NGOs and government agencies in Brazil. In addition, it provides missions in Brazil where participants can visit cities and help vulnerable migrants find shelter, all while creating awareness about the issue of human trafficking.
  9. The U.S. Department of State’s 2019 trafficking report outlines the role of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) in combatting human trafficking. The DPF has a unit in every state in Brazil that investigates most trafficking crimes. Although law enforcement at all levels lacks sufficient funding and staffing, the support of international organizations and foreign governments is supplementing this deficit.
  10. Traffickers often trick undocumented migrants into entering Brazil under the false pretense that they will live in the U.S. The traffickers then either force those migrants into human trafficking rings or dangerous journeys from Brazil up to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. is taking legal action in response to these crimes and prosecuting human traffickers through its judicial system when their crimes cross the U.S. border.

 Although these 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil present startling statistics, there remains a beacon of hope surrounding the topic. Brazil’s government is taking steps towards advancing the legal protection of human rights in the country, such as ratifying the United Nations Palermo Protocol. International human trafficking is an issue that requires support from various sectors, especially from governments and their agencies. Through international support and awareness, facts about human trafficking in Brazil may replace with more positive statistics. Overall, the work of NGOs, foreign aid and the Brazilian government continues to generate progress in the fight against human trafficking.

Ariana Davarpanah
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Fastest Developing CountriesThe world economy is changing every day due to trade investments, inflation and rising economies making a greater impact than ever before. Improvements in these economies have been due to significant government reforms within these countries as well as the administration of international aid through financial and infrastructural efforts. These are the top five fastest developing countries in no particular order.

Top Five Fastest Developing Countries

  1. Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Argentina is actually considered a developing country. Argentina’s economy was strong enough to ensure its citizens a good quality of life during the first part of the 20th century. However, in the 1990s, political upheaval caused substantial problems in its economy, resulting in an inflation rate that reached 2,000 percent. Fortunately, Argentina is gradually regaining its economic strength. Its GDP per capita just exceeds the $12,000 figure that most economists consider the minimum for developed countries. This makes Argentina one of the strongest countries in South America.
  2. Guyana. Experts have said that Guyana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It had a GDP of $3.63 billion and a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. If all goes according to plan, Guyana’s economy has the potential to grow up to 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent in 2020 and 2021. Its abundance in natural resources such as gold, sugar and rice are among the top leading exports worldwide. Experts also project that Guyana will become one of the world’s largest per-capita oil producers by 2025.
  3. India. As the second most populated country in the world, India has run into many problems involving poverty, overcrowding and a lack of access to appropriate medical care. Despite this, India has a large well-skilled workforce that has contributed to its fast-growing and largely diverse economy. India has a GDP rate of $2.7 trillion and a $7,859 GDP per capita rate.
  4. Brazil. Brazil is currently working its way out of one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As a result, its GDP growth has increased by 1 percent and its inflation rate has decreased to 2.9 percent. As Latin America’s largest economy, these GDP improvements have had a significant impact on pulling Latin America out of its economic difficulties. Additionally, investors have also become increasingly interested in investing in exchange-traded funds and large successful companies such as Petrobras, a large oil company in Brazil.
  5. China. Since China began reforming its economy in 1978, its GDP has had an average growth of almost 10 percent a year. Despite the fact that it is the world’s second-largest economy, China’s per capita income is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. About 373 million Chinese still live below the upper-middle-income poverty line. Overall, China is a growing influence on the world due to its successes in trade, investment and innovative business ventures.

This list of the five fastest developing countries sheds some light on the accomplishments of these nations as they build. As time progresses, many of these countries may change in status.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts about Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is known as the most developed country in Latin America. The country’s rapid economic growth, coupled with urbanization, is attracting more businesses to invest in Brazil. On top of this, Brazil’s strong tourism industry further bolsters the country’s positive image. However, the presence of human trafficking in Brazil is also a well-known fact throughout the international community. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Human trafficking in Brazil is linked to forced labor. The recent economic growth and accelerating urbanization in Brazil resulted in labor abuse of migrant workers. Textile, construction and sex industries are especially well known for abusing smuggled migrant workers. In 2013, the Brazilian police identified a Brazilian gang that specialized in trafficking Bangladeshi nationals into Brazil. These smuggled Bangladeshi workers lived in slavery-like conditions in order to pay off nearly $10,000 to their smugglers.
  2. The U.S. Department of State (USDOS) ranked Brazil as a “Tier 2” country. This signifies that the Brazilian government does not fully meet the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. USDOS does note, however, that the Brazilian government is making significant efforts to remedy the state of human trafficking in Brazil.
  3. Law 13.344 helps to protect and support victims of human trafficking in Brazil. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) maintained 12 posts at airports and bus stations known as transit points to identify cases. In addition, 17 out of 27 state governments operate anti-trafficking offices that introduce victims to social assistance centers.
  4. The Brazilian government’s definition of human trafficking needs to be improved. While Brazil’s Law 13.344/16 criminalizes all forms of human trafficking with harsh penalties for perpetrators, human trafficking in Brazil is defined as a movement-based crime. This is a limited definition compared to the U.N.’s definition, which states other forms of coercion or monetary persuasion as different forms of human trafficking
  5. The recent crisis in Venezuela leaves many Venezuelan migrants in danger of human trafficking in Brazil.
    The 2010 crisis in Venezuela created a massive exodus of migrants from Venezuela. These Venezuelan migrants in border cities and other parts of Brazil are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. Traffickers recruited these migrants in Brazil by offering them fraudulent job opportunities.
  6. Child sex tourism is still a major issue. When Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014, many authorities worried that this would worsen the country’s already present child sex industry. The influx of construction workers before the World Cup and an estimated 600,000 foreign visitors unintentionally creates a big market and demand for sex tourism in Brazil. Child sex workers are trafficked both domestically and internationally. In 2016, for example, the Brazilian police rescued eight children from the sex trafficking ring at the beaches near the main Olympic hub.
  7. In March 2019, the Brazilian police took down a trafficking ring that targeted transgender women. The Brazilian police rescued at least 38 transgender women from brothels in Ribeirao Preto, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. The traffickers lured these women in with a promise of paying for their transition surgeries. After the surgery, these women were forced into prostitution in order to pay back their traffickers.
  8. The US law enforcement collaborated with the Brazilian police to capture human traffickers in 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, cooperated with the Brazilian Federal Police (DOP) to capture three smugglers based in Brazil. The smugglers arranged travel for individuals through a network of smugglers operating in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and many other Latin American countries.
  9. The Brazilian Ministry of Labor (MTE) updated the “lista suja” in 2018 to combat human trafficking in Brazil. Lista suja, meaning “dirty list”, is a document that lists the names of companies that utilize labor that came from human trafficking. In 2018, the Brazilian government added 78 new employers to the list. The companies on the list cannot access credit by public and private financial institutions.
  10. The Brazilian Department of Labor is fighting forced labor through a special task force. Named
    Special Mobile Inspection Group (GEFM), the group was initiated in 1995. GEFM consists of labor inspectors and prosecutors. The group conducts unannounced inspections of factories, farms and firms. The Ministry of Labor reported that, through more than 600 inspections, the task force rescued more than 5000 workers from forced labor between 2013 and 2016.

Human trafficking in Brazil has many faces. Forced labor and prostitution are the main concerns of the Brazilian government when it is dealing with human trafficking in the country. It is clear that the Brazilian
government is striving to remedy the current situation. Laws such as the 13.344/16 help to protect and assist the victims of human trafficking while MTE’s Lista Suja aims to dissuade businesses from utilizing human trafficked labor. With these kinds of continued efforts, human trafficking in Brazil is sure to decrease.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Criminalization of Poverty in Rio
Brazil boasts the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the entire world and a lot of these arrests occur in the most urban areas of the country like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. These cities happen to be centers of diversity and culture, but also areas of extreme wealth disparity. The criminalization of poverty in Rio demonstrates the general poverty-crime cycle, where greater economic disadvantage and higher rates of incarceration lead to each other.

The Case of Rafael Braga Vieria

In 2013, the case of Rafael Braga Vieria became a landmark for the government of Rio’s less-than-neutral approach to making arrests at the time filled with mass demonstrations. Vieria was a homeless street cleaner carrying cleaning supplies. The authorities only arrested Vieria out of the 300,000 protesting that night. He received a five-year sentence on the grounds that he could have used the supplies to make a molotov cocktail.

Article 3 of Brazil’s constitution protects against this sort of discrimination against poverty, but at the same time, there is legislation allowing for drug offenses to receive judgment based on personal circumstances. For example, if the suspect came from a certain background, authorities could legally assume that they intended the drugs for personal use.

Life in Favelas

Usually, the poorer people in the area, living in favelas or poor neighborhoods, receive the worst of this treatment. The residents become targets for drug trafficking as well as scapegoats for the law. Rio de Janeiro’s favelas hold upwards of 1 million that face discrimination from the general public. In reality, violence is not an inherent part of favelas. It is a result of the system that allows them to exist in a state of such neglect. All of this leads to violence within the community and violence on behalf of the state. For instance, the police killed upwards of 600 people in 2015 alone. Around 75 percent of these deaths were black men.

Such high incarceration rates because of the criminalization of poverty in Rio often have other economic effects on the people most affected. Those living in favelas, disproportionately black families, receive evictions from their homes without reason. Between 2009 and 2013, the government forced around 20,000 families out of their homes with no compensation. In addition, many low-income families felt the impact of having one person incarcerated for a long time, especially if the person was the wage-earner of the family. Not only does this criminalization of poverty in Rio make life more difficult in the moment, but it also opens the door for further turning towards crime and violence.

Today

The percentage of people living in poverty is rising after the boom of the 2016 Olympics. Unemployment has risen, as well as the other byproducts of poverty, but many organizations are working to make a difference in Rio. Habitat for Humanity has helped almost 20,000 families find houses outside of these favelas, but people can always do more. Investing in other aid organizations, especially local ones, would be necessary to improve living conditions, thereby decreasing the criminalization of poverty in Rio and Brazil as a whole.

Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr