THE MOMENT OF TRUTH FOR BRAZIL?

Written by Serguem Silva, Tearfund Country Representative for Brazil:

In the next few days the Brazilian nation will start voting for our new leader, and there is a growing voice from within the country to tackle head on big issues like corruption.

Brazil is as famous for its corruption and broken promises as it is for its football. This year’s World Cup is a case in point: millions of dollars was promised to public infrastructure that either didn’t appear or was never completed.

Corruption is standing in the way of growth where everyone prospers by preventing the country from tackling the big issues that keep the poorest people poor. Voters are now looking for a leader who will call time on corruption.

Corruption in Brazil has many faces, inevitably affecting the country’s poorest communities.

Brazil is a country rich in natural resources but many citizens believe that the big extractive companies – minerals, oil and gas – feed the current political agenda by paying billions of pounds in bribes, meaning that money doesn’t reach vital public services like hospitals and that environmental standards aren’t being met. We worry that, if this is the case, those bribes will affect political debate and legislative decision-making, resulting in unfair allocation of contracts and ineffective monitoring of quality standards.  And the people who lose out will be those already at the bottom of the ladder.

One of the loudest voices speaking up on this issue during the election is coming from the church; an ever growing and increasingly influential part of society. A movement called Ame a Verdade (Love the Truth) is ‘seeking a Brazil without corruption’. It’s calling the government to account over the corruption involved in extractives. They are collecting signatures for a letter to send to government and galvanising support from other church based organisations around Brazil. They want to see stronger legislation and harsher punishment for those who break it. They also want the Brazilian people to demand more of their government, to stand up for their rights and the rights of poor people. In this way the church is setting the moral agenda for Brazil’s future.

Whatever the outcome of this election, it is clear that there is a movement of people who will hold their government to account and will no longer stay silent on corruption.This is a chance for the government to face up to the challenge, and candidates will have to show their commitments to reform, if they want to win. This could be the moment of truth for Brazil.

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