In 2003, an unprecedented event took place in Brazil. Ignacio Lula da Silva, a metalworker and union leader, became the first working class President to be elected in Brazilian history. The victory of this left wing candidate was not only a victory for his party the PT (Workers Party) but also for the millions who cast their vote in hope for a brighter future. Many considered Brazil's historic election to have been a popular judgment against the neoliberal economic project that has caused the increased impoverishment of millions of Brazilians.
However, the neoliberal agenda, pursued in the last two decades and backed and promoted by such supra-national global institutions as the World Bank, IMF and WTO, continues to push forward the mass privatization of state-owned industries, the explosion of low-wage factory zones, the wide-scale pillaging of Brazil's natural resources and the tripling of Brazil's international debt. Despite holding the tenth largest economy in the world, Brazilians have seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, with Brazil containing the widest disparity of wealth in the western hemisphere.
Regardless, Brazilian social movements are among the strongest and most organized in Latin America in challenging the social, racial, and economic injustices of the neoliberal system. The largest social movement in the hemisphere-- the Landless Workers Movement (MST)
-- has succeeded in pressuring for land reform and land titles for more than 250,000 displaced families, and promoting sustainable and rational usage of land and resources. Ten million Brazilians voted in a popular referendum against the Free Trade Area of the Americas
, despite the Brazilian government's favorable position in renegotiating the treaty with Washington. And Brazil is also home to the World Social Forum, which since 2000 has reunited the world's largest gathering of progressive social movements to make "Another World Possible."
Global Exchange's Brazil delegations
will directly connect you with the communities, organizations, and people who are providing real answers to the extreme social disparities faced in Brazil.