The 2014 World Cup has come to an end. As the eyes of the world begin to turn away from São Paulo and the rest of Brazil, we ask you to ensure that the needs of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are not forgotten. Volunteer Michael Walsh highlights some of challenges the country still faces in the years ahead:
“It was hard not to sympathise with David Luiz, the stop-gap captain of Brazil after the 7-1 defeat by Germany. The bitterness was etched on his tear-stained face and his misery reflected the sadness of so many of the spectators who had expected their team to conquer all-comers on their home grounds. For every Brazilian supporter at the semi-final there were tens of thousands of other Brazilians who shared the feelings of shock at the score but had other more pressing problems to contend with in just trying to scratch a decent living in Sao Paulo, Salvador, and the other big cities where the games were played.
The booing at the final in Rio was a comment, not on the deficiencies of Luiz and the other Brazilian defenders, but at the failure of the Government of President Dilma Rousseff to ensure that the benefits of preparing to hold the World Cup in Brazil, with all its potential to become a global economic superpower, were shared fairly with the poor communities in the vicinity of the stadia and millions of other people who exist precariously on the brink of destitution. She and her ministers took the protests in their stride at the final but must be deeply worried in advance of elections next year that, for all the glamour of the football tournament and the prospect of being at the centre of the world’s attention again at the Olympic games in 2016, the great majority of Brazilians suffer deprivation and denial of their right to reasonable housing, access to education, transport, and health care.
The legal framework proclaims almost all of these rights for Brazilians but the state has failed to turn them into facilities and services by developing the infrastructure to meet the needs of the poor and to remove obstacles to the redevelopment of the favelas and the abandoned and derelict buildings. In Sao Paulo alone they could house thousands of families. The national and Sao Paulo authorities have obligations also to provide for housing in the city centre close to jobs, and transport, health and education services. The poor need to be enabled to have an effective say in the development of the communities in which they live.
CAFOD will be campaigning urgently with its partners in Brazil for progress so that the defeat in football heralds much more important victories over poverty, injustice, and violence.”
CAFOD will continue to Stand By Brazil to demand justice, fair housing and decent public services for the poorest people in São Paulo and across Brazil. Join us and take action now at cafod.org.uk/standbybrazil.