Last updated: 20 november, 2009 - 11:23 GMT

Should Brazil cut its aid for the poor?

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

There is a euphoria in Brazil about the economy. For decade after decade it was called the country of the future, with population of 150 million and immense resources including oil.

However, the future never seemed to come, put off usually by poverty and violence on a level that seemed at times like a civil war.

The crime is still there. There aren't many countries where a drug gang would shoot down a police helicopter or throw a grenade into a police post, both of which happened in the last few weeks.

But the introduction of democracy 25 years ago saw the military retreat from politics. The other big moment was the election of the left-wing union leader, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as president, but with a promise to continue his conservative predecessor's less-than-radical policies, albeit sweetened with social programmes for the poor.

President Lula has tried to bring more of the poor into society itself by using social programmes like the minimum wage and the Bolsa Familia, under which poor parents get money but have to send children to school in return for it.

The president's critics say it is a naked populist play whereby funds are given to people who then vote for him.

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First broadcast on Business Daily



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