Friday, June 25, 2021

Brazilians can't make ends meet

 Less than 12% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated against the disease, more than 2,000 are dying daily. Experts warn Brazil may be entering its third wave. That is raising concern that those in poor communities will fall even further behind the wealthy.

Brazil has 15 million unemployed. Brazil has 27.5 million poor people, defined as households living on less than one minimum wage ($220). If the federal government ceased its current aid program, that number would go automatically to 34.3 million. That lifeline was first reduced and then suspended at the end of 2020. It was reinstated in April. Bolsonaro announced his administration intends to extend the welfare program for poor and informal workers by at least two months. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes faced accusations of insensitivity after his off-the-cuff proposal to feed the homeless with leftovers.

Some cities have created programs of their own to complement the federal effort. Salvador, the capital of Bahia state in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, has been giving 270 reais ($54) to 20,000 people each month. Sao Paulo state, home to one-fifth of Brazilians, the local government announced on June 17 that it would provide 100,000 needy families with monthly vouchers for cooking gas.

Nestlé donated 500 tons of food and beverages, and brewer Ambev gave $50 to 20,000 street vendors who usually work during Carnival, suspended due to the pandemic. Mining giant Vale announced it would donate a million food kits to 220,000 families in five states by year-end. Rio de Paz, a nonprofit, has delivered tens of thousands of hot meals in favelas.

Central Union of Favelas set out to distribute 500,000 cellphone chips in favelas throughout the country so children can have internet access to online classes. In Paraisopolis, one of Sao Paulo’s biggest favelas, another nonprofit, G10 of Favelas, hired so-called “street presidents” to tutor unschooled children whose parents work.

Brazil scrambles to help the poor, while they barely hang on (

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