According to the report, there are also approximately 4 million kids
without a birth certificate in the country. Twenty percent of the children born in Brazil
today do not receive a birth certificate. The federal government’s program Toda Criança
na Escola (Every Child in School) has attracted millions of children, but there are still
1.3 million kids who should be in school, and are not.
By Rodolfo Espinoza
Brazil has reacted promptly to a move by the United States and Canada to create a
certificate of human rights to be issued by the UN. The document would be used to guide
commercial relations between both the countries and the rest of the world. The Brazilian
government denounced the action as interference of the globalized economy into human
rights and a silent diplomatic wrangle brewing since early 1999 has put a damper on the
relationship between Brazil and The United States.
Brazil has made great progress in the field of human rights and José Gregori, the
National Secretary of Human Rights, was even awarded a prize by the UN for his effort in
this area. There’s still a lot to improve though. A recent report by Unicef (United
Nations Children’s Fund) shows that 35 percent of Brazilian children live in families
whose monthly income is less than $37, or half a monthly minimum wage. The State of the
World’s Children report places Brazil together with many African countries regarding the
inequality of distribution of wealth. With such bad grades the nation wouldn’t qualify for
favored nation trade status if the new human rights certificate were in affect.
The Unicef data also reveals that close to 18,000 Brazilian children are beaten every
day and that 2.9 million boys and girls aged 5 to 14 work to help with the family budget
even though Brazilian law establishes 16 as the minimum working age. While rating low in
income distribution and high in violence against children, Brazil improved in child
mortality going down a notch in this category, falling from number 86 in the ranking to
number 85. In Sweden, Norway and Japan there are four children deaths for a group of 1000,
but in Brazil this number is still 42 for 1000.
According to the report, there are also approximately 4 million kids without a birth
certificate in the country. Twenty percent of the children born in Brazil today do not
receive a birth certificate. The federal government’s program Toda Criança na Escola
(Every Child in School) has attracted millions of children, but there are still 1.3
million kids who should be in school, and are not.
Reiko Niimi, the representative of Unicef in Brazil, criticizes the huge gap between
rich and poor in the country: "Brazil has a giant disparity of income. That’s why it
is necessary to demand public policies for income redistribution, because you cannot allow
children to live in a house without a bathroom, you cannot allow 10 percent of the richer
people to have income 30 times larger than the poorer 40 percent."
Rubens Barbosa, Brazilian ambassador in Washington and Marcos Azambuja, ambassador in
France were asked by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to join secretary José Gregori
to fight the US-Canada proposal. Brasília sees the measure as a plot to bar imports from
Brazil into the United States. Brazil, however, has been importing more than exporting to
the States. In 1998 the country bought $13.5 billion while selling $9.7 billion. The
Cardoso administration has hinted that it can retaliate, restricting for example the entry
of Hollywood movies, which represent 90% of the films shown in the country.
Brazilian officials have also been in the offensive reminding the Yankees that they
also have their own human rights blemishes including the death inflicted to civilians in
attacks against Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq, in the 1990s. "One or two countries cannot
dictate the rules of human rights for the rest of the world," complained Gregori. He
is now trying to convince the rest of the world to hold an international meeting to
discuss globalization and human rights.