Brazil Launches Drive to Lift 16 Mln from Poverty

Monday, June 6, 2011

BRASILIA, June 2 (Reuters) – President Dilma Rousseff launched an ambitious plan on Thursday to eliminate dire poverty in Brazil within four years by lifting more than 16 million people from conditions of “misery.”

The “Brazil Without Misery” program is the signature policy of the former leftist guerrilla’s first term, her advisers said, fulfilling one of the key promises she made in her campaign for the presidency last year.

Poorer voters, millions of whom benefited from rapid economic growth and an expanded anti-poverty program under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, are the main electoral base for Rousseff’s center-left Workers’ Party.

The announcement of the new program in the capital Brasilia was a welcome relief for Rousseff following weeks of negative media coverage over a scandal that has tainted her chief of staff and exposed differences with her main coalition ally, the PMDB party.

The success of the Bolsa Familia family stipend program under Lula, which helped lift about 20 million people into a thriving lower middle class, showed that cutting poverty was a crucial part of Brazil’s economic success, Rousseff said at a ceremony in the capital.

“Brazil proved to the world that the best way to grow is distributing wealth,” she said, flanked by her troubled chief of staff Antonio Palocci and Vice President Michel Temer of the PMDB in an apparent show of unity.

Despite the strides Brazil has made in recent years, with brisk growth rates that have pushed it up the ranks of the world’s largest economies, it still faced a “crisis” of poverty that was more serious than any financial crisis, she said.

“We can’t forget that the most permanent, challenging and harrowing crisis is having chronic poverty in this country.”

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)