Brazil: a suicidal country?
By Iara Pietricovsky*
The colonial mentality, which is perpetuated in Brazil through a promiscuous and authoritarian patrimonial state, opens wide a society with extreme inequality of class, race, gender and ethnicity. While it has been possible to experience moments of improvement in the recent period, this past indelibly stains us — and, if left unchecked, will continue to widen the vicious cycle of social injustice.
Why do I say that? Let’s analyze the facts of Brazil of today. According to the Light Report, prepared by NGOs articulated around the 2030 Agenda, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 10, which addresses the reduction of inequality within and between countries, goes backwards. It was this same report that brought us the sad news that Brazil has returned to the UN Hunger Map, which it had left in 2014.
For the first time since 2010, Brazil maintained the same rating and position among the 188 nations surveyed in the United Nations human development ranking. We are stuck at 79th place. As a result of Constitutional Amendment 95, public policies that have improved health and education indicators are being dismantled. The end of Mais Médicos, budget cuts in strategic areas of scientific knowledge, and a deliberate policy of privatizing public systems, especially in education, are some of the most recent examples.
Income inequality between men and women has increased over the past two years. According to data from the Continuous PNAD (National Quarterly Continuous Household Sample Survey), women earned 72% of what men received in 2016. A year later, they earned 70%. This index keeps getting worse. It also shrank the equalization of income between blacks and whites – this is especially problematic when we have the majority of the population of women and blacks.
Not coincidentally, black women are the ones who pay the most taxes in proportion to their income in Brazil. Our regressive tax system is an instrument for maintaining social distances and, in addition to cutting public spending and other fiscal austerity measures, has been punishing the most vulnerable population.
This inequality is also expressed in the field of political representation. White men are the majority in all public spaces, especially in Congress and the Executive. Violence and discrimination against women also increases, especially the black ones.
We are facing an obsolete political system, which promotes the perpetuation of oligarchies in power and facilitates corruption mechanisms at all levels. The criminalization of NGOs and social movements, the persecution of the press and those sectors that express disagreements and critical views lead us to the democratic retreat towards an authoritarianism that dates fascism.
New generations are starting to pay the bill: child mortality has risen, unemployment is scaring, and the proposed pension reform, under discussion in Congress, already ends the dream of a decent retirement. It is true that there is a need for reform, but it is much more important to end privileges and progressive taxation of the richest 1%.
The dismantling of environmental protection policies and the setback in combating climate warming also puts the future of the next generations in jeopardy.
The conclusion is that there is an unequivocal difficulty in thinking of ourselves as a just, democratic and diverse nation. The unhealthy obscurantism of the elites, which also spreads in the alienated sectors, is suicidal. Otherwise, how to justify our current course? For those who believe that another country is possible, what to do?
Continue our struggle and our mobilizations for the right to exist in our
diversity. Educate ourselves. To believe in science and knowledge as a way to change reality for the sake of a better, more pluralistic, more beautiful, more ethical world. And to believe that there is indeed a possible participatory democracy in a world where solidarity, equality and freedom are compatible and complementary, simply because there is no other way out – nor another planet.
*Anthropologist, political scientist, actress and member of the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc) and WG Agenda 2030.
Published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on August 21th, 2019.
Photo: Evaristo Sá – 22.jun.12/AFP
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