By Tiago Sant’Ana
© Tiago Sant’Ana
What would you say are symbols of your current situation or the current situation in your country?
The situation in Brazil at the moment is complicated. First of all, there is a divergence between the policies of the Brazilian government and the recommendations of the World Health Organization. The official presidential line is against social distancing to avoid damaging the national economy. Alongside this scenario, the situation is critical for those who live in Brazil’s favelas, communities where the recommendation that you wash your hands cannot be complied with because, in many of these places, people don’t even have running water in their homes.
For historical reasons, Brazil is an extremely unequal country and this also has implications for the way that coronavirus impacts the population. Today, I watched TV images of backhoe diggers excavating new graves in a São Paulo cemetery and I believe that the situation in the country is much worse than what is reported by official sources.
How will the pandemic change the world? What do you see as long-term consequences of the crisis?
It’s difficult to predict the consequences of coronavirus because it’s a situation that is unprecedented in this century. But one factor is almost certain: there will certainly be rising inequality. There are only limited measures to protect poorer people. Campaigns to encourage donations and philanthropic actions will not be enough because we need more far-reaching, effective social policies - in both the short and long terms. We have a far-right government in power in Brazil, so I don’t anticipate investment reaching the social sector anytime soon. Priority will be given to the major economic and private-sector groups.
What gives you hope?
After more than 30 days at home in quarantine, hope is something I think about every day. But at the same time, it seems like a hard thing to have right now. Because for many people, it’s impossible to imagine a future when you have to think about whether there will be something to eat the next day. However, as I belong to a people which has survived years of genocide and violence, I believe that, once again, we will overcome this through our daily struggles, the sense of community that unites us, and a strong will to live.