Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced, November 1, that the Bolsa FamÀlia (Family Grant) program already assists 5.3 million Brazilian families in 5.5 thousand municipalities.
In his semimonthly radio program, “Breakfast with the President,” Lula guaranteed that the Bolsa Família will continue to expand in order to reach 8.7 million families in 2005 and all families that live below the poverty line by the end of 2006.
“This is a program that has had an extraordinary success, because it has made it possible for people who didn’t even have access to the necessary calories and proteins to eat at least three times a day now,” the President affirmed.
The Family Grant is an income distribution program for impoverished families with a monthly income of up to US$ 35 (100 reais).
The aim is to combat extreme poverty and social exclusion and encourage the emancipation of poor families. These families receive monthly cash benefits.
According to the President, the money transferred by the program contributes to the development of municipal economies.
“When the money gets to the mother, she goes to the supermarket, spends it, and makes the economy of the small municipality work. In many cases, family agriculture starts to produce again in the region, and you create commerce and financial activity in the city,” he said.
According to Lula, the Bolsa Família has accomplished its goals not just in Brazil but in other countries, since it has already converted the issue of hunger into a global campaign.
“My dream is that one day all Brazilians can sustain themselves by force of their labor, without needing government help. What they need to receive from the government is good education, good health, and good roads.
“But until we can give everyone access to these things, we have to understand that there are people who are starving,” he emphasized.
Lula affirmed that the government must ensure economic growth and job creation.
“We shall carry out a policy of preference for the poor. This is not just the Family Grant. The Bolsa Família is a program that is part of Zero Hunger.
“Agrarian reform is part of the Zero Hunger program. Agricultural insurance is part of Zero Hunger. The demarcation of Indian lands and lands occupied by descendants of runaway slaves is part of Zero Hunger. I know that much remains to be done, but I am convinced that we shall do it,” he declared.
Translator: David Silberstein