Letter to the Editor, by Eduardo Scuratovski De Gasperi RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In 2008 the world experienced an economic depression. Brazil, unlike most countries was able to survive this crisis. Today according to the IMF and the World Bank, Brazil has the 7th largest economy in the world. This was caused by the period of growth in the last ten years. In 2012 the GDP was estimated to be around 2.4 trillion dollars (World Factbook). In the same time the economy grew around one percent (World Factbook). These are clear signs that the economy of Brazil is improving. But not all is well in the country. Poverty and crime remain two of the biggest problems faced. Only when poverty is reduced the crime rates will decrease. One of the main problems in Brazil is crime and security. Crime rates in Brazil remain one of the largest in the world. The Latin American Studies Center’s Map of Violence 2013, analyzed crime in the past 30 years in Brazil to find a cause for it. In 2011 there 27 homicides per 100,000 people, and 53 per 100,000 people aged between 14 and 25 (Wells). In the last four years of the study over 200,000 people were murdered in Brazil (Wells). Brazil has the seventh highest rate among the 95 countries where numbers where collected (Wells). In late 2006, when I was still living with my family in the southern city or Porto Alegre in Brazil, my mother was robbed. She had just dropped me and my older brother in school and then she went to a place near my old school to pay for some course. When she came to her car, two men stepped outside of a car and pointed a gun to her head. They took her car away, and everything that was inside of it. Thankfully she escaped alive. When she went to the police station to file a report, the officer said that the chances of solving the crime or finding the stolen vehicle were virtually impossible. Later when she came home, one of our neighbors blamed her for allowing the robbers to rob her. The study claimed that organized crime and drug trafficking are not the main causes of crime in Brazil. There is a culture of violence were people commit murder on impulse for many different reasons (Wells). Another reason for high crime rates is impunity as only five to eight percent of murders were solved (Wells). Another reason is that because of the high crime rates people, as well as state institutions have become tolerant to violent crimes (Wells). When a violent crime occurs the blame most of the time goes to the victims (Wells). The conclusion of the report is that the main causes of violent crimes in Brazil is poverty, inequality and the mismanagement of the economy by the government, which is dealing with problems of corruption (Wells). Although the economy continues to improve year after year, Brazil still faces the plague of poverty. I currently live in the Tampa, Florida in the United States, and have lived in other countries, but once a year I go back to Brazil in vacation. Whenever I go to Brazil I see the difference in the life conditions of a large part of the population in Brazil and those in foreign countries. There are many more homeless people, or people living in scarce places. Also most of the places that I go seem to be from an old time story, compared to the modern buildings and constructions of places like China, and the Middle East. Many people have improved their life condition, but 16.2 million people, or 8.5 percent of the population have an income of less than R$70 month, equivalent to US$1.30 per day (de Sainte Cox). These people live under the extreme poverty line. Brazil has two cities among the top twenty cities with the highest cost of living (de Sainte Cox). The government has introduced many solutions to this problem, but none of them have had major effects on the population. In 2003 the Bolsa Familia, or Family Allowance program was introduced. It gives R$15 to R$95 per month to low income families. In exchange, the families have to keep their children in school and follow a basic health program (de Sainte Cox). There are many people who do not receive this or any other benefit because of geographical isolation, lack of information, or bureaucratic malpractice (de Sainte Cox). But Dilma Rousseff, the president under the program of Brazil without Misery wants to include another 320,000 people in this system of welfare (de Sainte Cox). Throwing money at the problem is not the solution to this problem. For crime rates to lower in the future, first the government must tackle the poverty problem, and them solve the crime and security crisis. The government thinks that if people are given money that they will improve their own life conditions and that then crime will fall. Since most of these people have always lived under poverty, they often do not know what to do with the money, and they are not able to get out of poverty. The solution is to invest in infrastructure and to build the economy in more efficient manner. Right now in Brazil the economy is growing, but the people are not seeing the results. There has to be a system in place where more jobs are available to the people, and where the people are better educated and have better health conditions. If these conditions are met more people will leave their current state of poverty, which in turn will help reduce crime rates around the nation. I propose some solutions to the problem of crime in Brazil. First poverty must be solved, if crime is to be reduced. To solve poverty, the government must not just throw money at problem, instead it must build long lasting solutions, that will help all or most of the population. These solutions are to improve education, the health system, create more jobs, and to have better infrastructure. This measures will tackle the problem of poverty. In order for this idea to work, the people and the government must work together. The government will provide these things to the population, who in return must take the opportunity to improve society. People who are opposed to these measures, say that they are too expensive and that they take time to be completed. They argue that we need more immediate solutions to crime, but I say that those immediate solutions, which have already being tried, like have more police on the street, and others are only temporary, as crime rates may fall for a short period of time, but they will return to high levels in time. In order to eradicate crime, poverty must first be eradicated. For so long in Brazil people have said, that the main problem is lack of opportunity. This is their opportunity to make a difference. Eduardo Scuratovski De Gasperi is a first year Student at The University of Tampa. He was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil and has lived abroad for the past seven seven years. Works Cited: “Brazil.” The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency, 25 October 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013. Wells, Miriam. ” Report Maps Three Decades Of Violence In Brazil.” insightcrime.org .InSightCrime, 12 Aug 2013. Web. 14 Nov 2013. de Sainte Cox, Sarah. “Brazil Strives for Economic Equality” The Rio Times, 07 Feb 2012. Web. 14 Nov 2013. 2 Responses to "Letter: Brazil, Crime and Poverty and How to Solve it?" bamabrasileira December 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM I love how people always try to pretend that giving money directly to people who have no money AND who live in a society that is historically and currently classist (and, thus, unamenable to upward mobility), is not a part of the solution to this highly complex problem! Investing in better roads and schools will be of no use whatsoever if the people meant to benefit from them don’t have enough food to eat on a daily basis. I say that “throwing money at them” is the most important first step in a series of important steps. These issues will take generations to solve. Also, we tend to incorrectly assess that the MAJORITY of the poor dont know that what to do with the money, or only send their children to school to get food or so they can get the money. This just isn’t the truth! Most of these people DO use the money as it is meant to be used – the same as the majority of welfare participants in developed nations. I hope the author of this piece will learn something at the University of Tampa and quit regurgitating ideas he has seen others offer as solutions to an extremely complex set of issues. 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