How Brazil got off list of world’s fastest-growing economies

How Brazil got off list of world’s fastest-growing economies

Injured teacher Marcio Henrique dos Santos after he was shot. Photo credit: Jornal Do Brasil website.

Injured teacher Marcio Henrique dos Santos after he was shot. Photo credit: Jornal Do Brasil website.

A teacher in the Brazilian state of Parana was shot in the eye by a military police officer on April 29 as he was participating in a protest. “Suddenly, I felt the blow,” he later said about his experience. “I bent down, put my hand on my eye and the blood spurted.”

Injured teacher Márcio Henrique dos Santos and his colleagues were demonstrating against a proposed attack on their pension rights. They were on strike for the second time this year because the governor, Beto Richhad, had not fulfilled the previous agreement.

In response to the teachers’ claim, the governor ordered the military police to attack them using rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, pepper spray, batons and police dogs.

More than 200 teachers were injured that day, and eight were reported in serious condition. According to the governor, the change in the teachers’ pension rights was an attempt to reduce the state spending.

Teachers clash with Brazilian police during their demonstration. Photo credit: Brasil 247 website.

Teachers clash with Brazilian police during their demonstration. Photo credit: Brasil 247 website.

Controversially, for this year, state deputies approved an increase of 26 percent on their own wages, which is now R$25,322.25 a month (about $6,450) without counting all the benefits, while teachers are paid on average R$2,473.22 ($630) a month.

The door of the women restrooms at the school. Photo credit: Faber Facebook page.

The door of the women restrooms at the school. Photo credit: Faber Facebook page.

On Sept. 18, 2012, Isadora Faber, 13, a student in the public educational system of Florianópolis, was accused of making slanders and defamation. She launched a Facebook page called “Diário de Classe” where she posted a series of photos showing a lack of maintenance in her school, such as broken windows, broken doors in classes and restrooms, exposed electrical installations, sports field in bad conditions, broken ventilators, broken water fountains, and a lot more. [pictured]

With these photos, Faber forced the administration to make improvements to the facility, although she was criticized for the way she did it. The Brazilian public education system is known for having a giant lack of infrastructure, with teachers having low wages and no incentives to improve, and students having no motivation. In a video explaining the posts on her Facebook page, Isadora said: “I don’t do it for my benefit, I do it for everybody’s benefit, so I don’t get why some people don’t like it.”

Exposed electrical installation at the school. Photo credit: Faber Facebook page.

Exposed electrical installation at the school. Photo credit: Faber Facebook page.

The experiences of Márcio and Isadora are examples of the effects the Brazilian government's spending on public debt has on the country. An amount of R$977,897,452,861 (or approximately $249 billion) in Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country by geographical area and population, is not only a huge number but also has a major impact on the Brazilian people and state. The figure, which indicates the spending of the Brazilian federal government on the public debt in 2014, has been growing exponentially for the last few decades.

Even with paying almost R$1 trillion, the debt increased by 8.15 percent in 2014, mounting from R$2.12 trillion to R$2.29 trillion. This spending was 12 times the spending in education, which explains in part why there is no money for education. In August, the public debt was above R$3.7 trillion, which represents around 65 percent of the Brazilian GDP, the worst level in Brazil’s history.

Back in 2000, civil institutions created the group “Auditoria Cidadã da Dívida,” and since then, they have been calling on the government to audit the public debt. The auditing is specified in the constitution of 1988, but the government has shown no intention of doing it, even though Auditoria Cidadã da Dívida representants have reported many irregularities in this debt. The federal government has forced state governments to increase taxes and cut spending to pay the giant debt full of irregularities.

Brazil was in recent years one of fastest-growing economies in the world chiefly due to its export potential. However, with this giant public debt increasing every year, state governments are running out of money, so there is no money to invest in basic services like healthcare, education and public safety. Additionally, the economy is going down this year, the unemployment rate is going up, and the inflation is above nine percent.

The public debt is creating a chaos in the country, and the mass media does not shed light on it. News broadcasts in Brazil often discuss the effects of the economic crisis like recession, inflation, unemployment and violence, but never the root cause.

I hope that one day I will be able to change the quotation “Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be” to “Brazil is the country of the future — and where I want to be.”

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