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News > Latin America

Brazilian Lawmaker Says Family Allowance 'Enslaves' Citizens

  • Brazil's President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia.

    Brazil's President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 January 2018

“Creating a program that enslaves people is not a good social program," said Rodrigo Maia.

During an official visit to the United States, Brazil's President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that the country's popular program, Family Allowance (Bolsa Familia), “enslaves” people.

Brazil: Over 4.5 Million Booted from Popular Social Program

A member of the Democratas, DEM, a political party who's serving his fifth term as a congressman, Maia resorted to local slang to make his point, saying that the program “gives fish but doesn't teach how to fish,” according to Revista Forum.

“Creating a program that enslaves people is not a good social program. A good program is one that includes that person and provides conditions in order for them to return to society and are able to, with their own legs, find employment,” he added.

Launched in 2003 during Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva's first term as president, Family Allowance provides stipends to families living below the poverty line. In turn, those families must prove that their children are attending school and have been vaccinated.

The program, alongside a slew of other social initiatives, was part and parcel in helping to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty, as well as removing the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map. When the World Food Program hailed the country as a champion in the fight against hunger, former Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said, “leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil." 

"We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state," she added.

Family Allowance also aims to empower Brazil's working class, ensuring that impoverished families are able to purchase hygienic materials, fulfill their transportation needs and have access to other basic necessities.

Since de-facto Brazilian President Michel Temer took office in August 2016, a total of 4,775,301 Family Allowance beneficiaries have been canceled from the program. Another 4,278,690 recipients have had their benefits altered. The details were compiled and released by Brazil's Ministry of Social Development.

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