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Judi Lynn

(161,314 posts)
Tue Oct 16, 2018, 03:40 AM Oct 2018

Brazil: the First Republic under threat

16 octobre 2018

In the United States, it was not until the mid 1960s that the former slaves finally obtained the right to sit in the same buses as whites, to go to the same schools and, at the same time, accede to the right to vote. In Brazil, the right to vote for the poor dates from the 1988 constitution, just a few years before the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in 1994.

The comparison may shock: the population in Brazil is much more mixed than the two other countries. In 2010, in the last census, 48% of the population declared themselves to be ‘white’, 43% ‘mixed’, 8% ‘black’ and 1% ‘Asian’ or ‘natives’. In reality, more than 90% of Brazilians are of mixed origin. The fact remains that social and racial divisions are closely linked. While Brazil is not a country devoid of racism, it is sometimes described as the country of « cordial racism ». This is also a country where democracy is recent and fragile and at the moment is faced with a very serious crisis.

Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, at a time when the slaves still represented 30% of the population in some provinces, particularly in the sugar growing regions in the North East. Apart from the extreme case of slavery, this is a country where labour relations have long been extremely hard, in particular between the landowners and agricultural labourers or landless peasants. On the political level, the 1891 constitution was careful to specify that non-literate people would not have the right to vote, a rule that was also incorporated into the constitutions of 1934 and 1946. This permitted the exclusion of 70% of the adult population from the participation in the electoral process in 1890, and still over 50% in 1950 and 20% in 1980. In practice these were not only former slaves but more generally the poor who were thus excluded from the political scene for a century. In comparison, India had no hesitation in implementing genuine universal suffrage as from 1947, despite the huge social and status divisions inherited from the past and the immense poverty of the country.

In Brazil, despite the political exclusion of the illiterate no proactive education policy was implemented. The reason why inequality has remained so widespread in the country is primarily because the property-owning classes have never really attempted to reverse the heavy historical legacy. The quality of the public services and schools open to the majority has long remained extremely inadequate and is still insufficient today.

More:
http://piketty.blog.lemonde.fr/2018/10/16/brazil-the-first-republic-under-threat/

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