There has been an awful lot of international press calling Bolsonaro a fascist, narcistic, and autocratic leader, and many of the Brazilian population are sick of him. Now he is launching himself as the savior of the people with the biggest social financial program in the world. Could it be true, one must ask?
One thing for sure is that he captures more and more followers with his speeches that boast about how he and his governmental team have created world-shattering records. He is the first president that I’ve heard about that gets his fans chanting (singing) his name out aloud during such events.
Brazil’s biggest social financial program in the world “Bolsa Família” has been around since before Bolsonaro came to power and took office on January 1st, 2019. Nevertheless, he and his team like to brag about how remarkable they are during their term in government. The pandemic has ensured more help to strengthen this image though truth be known there has been insufficient help for the population.
As a social welfare program, it is a contributing factor to the reduction of poverty in Brazil, which fell 27.7% during the first term in the Lula administration. It has been described as "the largest program of its kind in the world." By February 2011, 26% of the Brazilian population were covered by the program.
As of March 2020, the program covers some 14 million families, and pays an average of $34 per month, in a country where the minimum wage is $190 per month. Due to the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about massive pay-outs. However, the dollar buys more reais, so coupled with inflation its real value has greatly decreased. Now Bolsonaro has come up with a new scheme to award families R$400 (approx. $71) per month.
What about all the months during the pandemic when the people depended on the contribution of private organizations to put food on their table, and even then, the government’s president and economics minister, Paulo Guedes, boasted about how they are the number one country in the world to help their people!
Around 25 million families will be left penniless by the end of the month. The number of poor households in Brazil tripled in the closing months of 2020, and these families were receiving the now-extinct coronavirus emergency aid. Since the first emergency aid payment which came months into the pandemic, there has been many periods when support has been nonoperational. If we consider a timely-frame was necessary to support those in need, many have suffered as a consequence.
On another note, since he ran for president in 2018 there is a lot of vote grabbing tactics used by Bolsonaro who has blocked social networks from deleting posts. The president’s press office announced the move was to protect “freedom of speech” and eliminate “arbitrary removal” of accounts and content.
In other words, he supports “Fake News” to sway public opinion. His followers are spellbound by such posts which will influence the public for more votes in the general election of October 2022.
With these facts in mind, one has to ask, if by reelecting Jair Bolsonaro as President of Brazil will poverty suddenly disappear? It is doubtful! It’s a problem that has been around for decades, and it doesn’t look as though the Bolsonaro government has it as the number one priority. However, presently it serves to get more votes!
Written by Carl Boniface