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Brazzil - Nation - April 2004

Brazil: 2.4% Have 1/3 of Riches

During the last 20 years, the Brazilian economy managed to
double the number of wealthy Brazilians. The gap between
rich and poor has increased though. While in 1980 the wealthiest
Brazilians earned 10 times more than the median family
income, this difference has increased to 14 times, today.

Marc Boucher-Colbert


Picture With already one of the worst disparities of wealth in the world, the gap between rich and poor has widened even more over the last two decades in Brazil. The income of the wealthiest 2.4 percent is now approximately 14 times greater than the median Brazilian family income.

In 1980, the wealthiest Brazilians earned only 10 times more than the median family income. In comparison with Brazilians living under the poverty line, the wealthiest now earn 80 times more income.

During the last 20 years, the Brazilian economy, which weathered a recession, debt moratorium, and various economic plans, managed to double the number of wealthy Brazilians. According to the book, Atlas da Riqueza no Brasil (Wealth Atlas in Brazil) by economist Marcio Pochmann, there were 1.162 million wealthy families (2.4 percent of the population) in Brazil in 2000.

Twenty years ago, the number was 507,000 (equivalent to 1.8 percent of the population). In the study, families with monthly income over R$10,982 (Brazilian monetary value in September 2003) are considered wealthy. Today, this monthly income amount would be approximately $3,814 U.S. dollars. The government mandated minimum wage hovers around $85 dollars (R$240) per month.

The southeastern region of the country, led by São Paulo, had 67.2 percent of the wealthy families in 1980. Twenty years later, the southeastern regional percentage climbed to 73.5 percent. In the arid northeastern region, the numbers fell from 9.4 percent in 1980 to 7.2 percent in 2000.

Pochmann's book shows that the 2.4 percent wealthiest Brazilian families account for 1/3 of the nation's wealth according to the 2000 Census. Atlas da Riqueza no Brasil will be published by Editors Cortez at the upcoming Bienal do Livro.

Tripled Violence

In six years, the number of people killed by the police of Rio de Janeiro has tripled. Since 1998, the Civil Police has classified the deaths as "acts of resistance" during conflicts between the police and alleged criminal suspects.

According to Antônio Garotinho, Rio's Secretary of Public Security, the increase in the number of deaths is happening because there is more direct confrontation in the last years.

In 2003, 1,195 suspects were killed by the Rio police, which is 32 percent more than the 900 people who were killed in 2002. The 2002 figure was already a record number. The numbers were provided by the State Secretary of Public Security.

Last November, Garotinho had celebrated the numbers in his weekly radio program. He said, "I do not want anyone being killed (by the police). I wish from my heart that there is peace, but while there are people in the path of evil, the police must act to give peace to other people."

Garotinho is the former governor and husband of Rosinha Garotinho, the actual governor. Bringing offending officers to justice can prove difficult. In order to shelve investigations of police misconduct, the police agent has only to secure two witnesses who will testify that the agent was being attacked by the alleged criminals.

Less Indian Land

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will probably reduce the Indígenous Reservation Raposa/Serra do Sol, in the State of Roraima (high Amazonas). Lula justified the reduction by stating that he is taking into account the rights of the non-indigenous population and economic interests in the state of Roraima.

According to Representative Lindberg Farias,from Rio's Workers' Party and a member of the congressional commission formed to study the issue, rice farms and the Uiramutã municipality may be excluded from the reservation. This would decrease the reservation by 1.5 percent.

This material was distributed by News from Brazil, a service from Sejup (Serviço Brasileiro de Justiça e Paz—Brazilian Service of Justice and Peace). To get in touch with them, send a message to sejupsub@lycos.com

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