Brazil favela residents protest hunger, pandemic response
Residents of some Brazil’s largest favelas protested on Monday in Sao Paulo against what they say is an inadequate government response to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The street demonstration is part of G10 Favelas, a movement led by residents’ association of Brazil’s 10 biggest favelas.
With banners and empty pots in hand, G10 Favelas members blocked an avenue near Paraisopolis, Sao Paulo’s largest favela in a demonstration they called ‘Empty Pots.”
Community leader Gilson Rodrigues said the protest was to show there is hunger in Brazil and the emergency aid the government is offering is not enough.
During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the government paid $108 USD dollars (about 600 reais) per month to people in vulnerable situations.
This payment ended in December, but with infections at new record levels, the government announced it will resume payments this week, but at a reduced $27 USD (about 150 reais).
“The emergency aid of $27 dollars is enough to buy a domestic gas cylinder, 5kg of rice and 1kg of beans. A family cannot survive a month with this aid,” said Rodrigues, Paraisopolis community leader and member of the G10 movement.
“It is a shame that Brazil, a rich country with so many opportunities, leaves its population suffering from hunger,” said Rodrigues.
The unemployment rate in Brazil also reached a record number in 2020, affecting more than 13 million people, according to figures from the Brazilian Statistics Institute, IBGE.
Idalva de Jesus Souza is part of that statistic.
She supports two daughters and a granddaughter who live with her, saying she has never faced a situation like this in her life.
“My fear is that my daughters go hungry,” she said.
Everyday Souza and hundreds of people go to the community center to receive a free lunch meal but the reduction in the donations to the center is putting many at risk.
At the peak of the pandemic, the center could distribute 11,000 free meals. Today they can offer only 700.
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