Go Back

Brazzil - People - July 2004

A Crisis of Low Self-Esteem in Brazil

Brazilians have the lowest self-esteem in Latin America. Only 22
percent of Brazilians say that they trust their countrymen.
Compare this to Uruguay in which the trust is 64 percent,
Colombia (55 percent) and Chile (52 percent). In Brazil, most
people also tend to overvalue everything that's made overseas.

Carolina Pimentel


Picture President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on July 19, inaugurated a campaign with the theme, "The best thing Brazil has is Brazilians." The campaign is being sponsored by the ABA (Associação Brasileira de Anunciantes—Brazilian Advertisers Council) with the idea of improving the population's self-esteem, which has been somewhat sluggish.

The ABA reports that a 2002 survey by the Sebrae (Serviço de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas—Small Business Administration) found that the main problems Brazilians have are low self-esteem, coupled with a tendency to overvalue foreign-made goods.

The ABA also used data from a survey by Latino Barômetro, a Chilean public opinion institute, that found that Brazilians have the lowest self-esteem in Latin America, with only 22 percent of those interviewed saying they trusted their countrymen (in Uruguay, Colombia and Chile, the numbers were 64 percent, 55 percent and 52 percent, respectively).

In order to give Brazilian self-esteem a boost, the ABA is counting on an emotional publicity campaign showing people who overcame obstacles. They will be famous people and unknowns and their stories will appear on radio, TV, and in newspapers and magazines.

The campaign is to be entirely a public service operation based on voluntary efforts. Brazil's main media groups have already promised to cooperate. The ABA expects the private sector and government agencies to also join in extolling Brazilian talent, capabilities and accomplishments.


Fear of unemployment remains high among Brazilians. Three months ago a CNI/Ibope poll found that 54 percent of those interviewed thought unemployment would rise. The latest survey at the end of June has found that 55 percent now think there will be fewer jobs.

However, a breakdown of the survey shows that among those with higher levels of education and income there is more optimism than three months ago. The opposite is true among those with lower education levels and income: they are more pessimistic.

"The view from the bottom of the social pyramid is worse, at least regarding jobs," explains Amauri Teixeira, a marketing specialist who analyzed the

Cautious Optimism

With optimism, but also caution, was the way President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva described how he felt about the news of record industrial output in May. Production was up 2.2 percent, the highest since September 2003.

Speaking to the nation during his fortnightly radio talk, "Breakfast with the President," Lula explained that the reason for caution was because his government wanted "long-term, sustainable growth," not just a good month.

"That is why we have to be cautious. That is why we are working patiently. That is why we ask the people to pay attention to what is happening in Brazil," said Lula, adding that the measures his administration was implementing to ensure sustainable growth could have been put in place a long time ago.

The President pointed to more financing for agriculture, especially family farming, and easier credit access for workers. "Banks are making these loans at low interest rates, microfinancing is expanding, the BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social—Brazilian Development Bank) has a lot of money for corporations that want to invest in projects that create growth, jobs and income distribution," the President declared.

Carolina Pimentel works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.

Discuss it in our Forum

Send your comments to Brazzil

Anything to say about Brazil or Brazilians? Brazzil
wishes to publish your material. See what to do.