Note from BW of Brazil: With elections to decide the Brazilian presidency less than 48 hours away, many families will surely be considering if their social situation has improved over the past four years. Under 12 years of PT (Worker’s Party) president, millions of Brazilians have benefited from a number of social programs enacted under the governments of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, who will seek re-election on Sunday. For Afro-Brazilians, the last 12 years have been the greatest period of social improvements in their lives since the abolition of slavery in 1888. Below is a brief analysis of a few of the programs that made this possible.
Black population is greatest beneficiary of government social programs
After liberation, slaves didn’t have access to jobs, land, education or citizenship. Results of this exclusion are reflected even today in social statistics
By Roldão Arruda
The government social programs are not specifically tailored for the population of pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns) of the country. Each time one analyzes the results of these programs, however, what can be verified is that they benefit above all this parcel of the Brazilian population.
Of the 14 million beneficiary families of the Bolsa Família program, 73% are preto and pardo. And 68% of them are headed by black women, according to the Ministry of Social Development. From the group of 22 million people, that, with social programs, managed to escape from extreme poverty, 78% are preto and pardo.
Wherever in the stats that one focuses the results coincide. Of a total of 214,000 quilombola families that exist in the country, according to official estimates, 108,000 are part of the Cadastro Único program – that gathers information on the neediest families. Of the total listed, 80% of them receive funds from Bolsa Família.
How does one explain this? It’s not because of the amount of pretos and pardos in the population. They account for 50.7% of Brazilians, according to IBGE statistics. The explanation lies elsewhere. It begins with the abolition of slavery in 1888, after nearly 4 million blacks were trafficked from Africa to Brazil.
Brazil was the last among Western countries to free the slaves. Besides being late, the liberation was not followed by any action that could benefit blacks, who up to that point had no type of rights. They were not considered citizens.
They were thrown out of the large estates without any support. There was no thought, for example, of a special education program, as occurred in the United States. Imagine this effect in a country where the illiterate only attained the right to vote after a hundred years, with the 1988 Constitution.
Blacks were not given land or jobs. Large landowners preferred to import labor from Europe, especially Italy.
The consequences are visible to this day in all social indicators. Whether in health, in education, jobs, wage levels, pretos and pardos always occupy the worst positions. It is no accident that, by extending such a network where the poorest people in the country are concentrated, the programs end up fishing for mostly pretos and pardos.
Other data on this issue in other programs:
* Out of the 1 million tanks delivered by the Programa Água Para Todo (Water for All Program), 80% are black
* Pretos and pardos make up 80% of the families in the Cadastro Único system are served by Luz Para Todos (Lights for All)
* 68% of enrollments accounted for in technical courses (Pronatec) were offered to beneficiaries of the Bolsa Família.
* 70% of 724,000 low-income families benefit benefited from housing units of the Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House, My Life) program.