Life in Brazil
My name is Javier Silva; I am forty-nine years of age, and have lived in Brazil all my life. I have been married to my wife Margarita for twenty-five years. We have five children. My father owned a very successful farm. He grew agricultural products, and about twenty years ago started raising cattle. My father was fortunate enough to be able to provide limited education for me. He passed away and handed down his business to me. I have been running the farm now without his help for fifteen years. Over the years of my life, I have taken note of some significant world events that have affected my family and myself.
Brazil has undergone major governmental restructuring, due to public and political unrest. Militia groups like the Guerrillas have been major instigators in our political instability. Political instability has caused my family harm in the past. It forced my country into economic debt and depression.
The first hardship that caused my father to lose money was when the debt crisis reached its peak. Structural adjustment programs (S.A.P. s) were put in place to make sure first world lenders got a return on their money. The loans were now restructured according to the floating interest rate in America. This proved to worsen the debt because the U.S. had trouble fighting inflation rates. This causes interest rates to soar, and increased the total debt owed by Brazil. This has taken advantage of the people in my country. Brazil was forced to cut cash flow to many public programs, such as education and healthcare. The cut in healthcare was a direct result in my father s death. My father was sick with cancer and wasn t able to afford western medicine that would have saved his life. This made me raise a question to my wife. I asked her if what the first world lenders had done with the S.A.P. s was fare and she responded by saying, This is outrageous! This puts the lives of our people in their hands; what gives them the right to have the power to choose if the citizens of our country can live or die? This shattered the hope of having a good welfare system for those who are out of a job.
The structural adjustment programs opened the doors to some major corporations. At first this didn t seem to affect us much, but as the years went on the companies started flooding the markets with agricultural products. This caused the price of my goods to drop. These companies provided many jobs, and caused wages to rise. It was harder for us to get laborers to help run our farm, which caused us to loose about a silo s worth of agricultural products because they were not harvested in time.
Many of the friends I grew up with took jobs that the first world companies provided with their factories and farms. My friends praised the money because many of them have been unemployed for some time. This led to a split in my town; the farmers and the workers at the factories. Many of the farmers lost their farms, because they simply could not compete with big businesses, or afford to run their farms. To magnify the problem a farmer would have further, They had a hard time getting jobs at the factories, because they gradually couldn t afford to run the farm. When they needed to get a job at one of these companies they were already filled by people, that had been out of work already. I saw some of my friends suffer the effects of poverty. One of my closest friends wife and baby passed away, because she was unable to get an operation to remove the baby. My friend said it was one of the worst moments in his life.
Brazil, unlike other third world nations, has some of the most valuable resources in the world. The rainforest has been a gold mine for the country. Acres of rainforest have been decimated because of the S.A.P. s and of the process of globalization. The cutting down of the rainforests provided a lot of capital to Brazil. This helped relieve some of the debt Brazil was in. The impact the extraction of Brazil s resources has impacted the world more so than most countries. The destruction of countless acres of rainforest has directly resulted in an increase of greenhouse gases. This gas causes a phenomena known as global warming. I have discerning feelings about the effects this would have on my farm. I read that Global warming increases the average annual temperature globally. This would shift growing seasons making it harder for my crops to adapt to the new temperature. It might also started a draught which could cause total crop failure.
My family and I were barely able to adjust to these new economic conditions, but due to the financial stability my father was able to provide for us we were alright for the time being. We lost money, but I could still feed my family. Feeding my family is always my primary concern.
The economic strain put many small merchants out of work and pushed them below the poverty line. I think that many small business owners in the more developed part of our country will suffer. Since Brazil was forced to instate S.A.P. s, first world companies continued set up an infrastructure that is the basis for globalization in Brazil. The companies continued to build factories, and hire workers for cheaper wages. This caused the standard of living in the cities of Brazil to deteriorate. Overpopulation is combined with limited housing, which sets the potential for a disease epidemic to spread due to the pollution that taints the water. The other result from the overpopulation is raising population of people that live in the streets. It makes me feel secure because I have my own house, and good clean water so my family stays healthy.
My dream is to send my children to school so they can be educated, and no longer live on a farm. At the current rate we are barely able to sell enough from the harvests and cattle at such a cheap price to save more than five hundred U.S. dollars a year. I fear for the dream I have for the future of my family. Currently there is a meeting scheduled for Quebec City in Canada. The meeting contains delegates from all of the countries in the Americas (excluding Cuba). The issue of the meeting deals with the future of free trade. The goal is to drop almost all trade barriers, opening markets that were previously unavailable for foreign investment. This opens the floodgate for globalization. This will increase the ability of the first world countries to exploit Brazil. The companies are gradually taking up all the niches in the market. This would continue to hurt my farm. Even now rainforest is burned to build cattle ranches and farms that compete with better prices than me. This again raises the point of global warming, and the impact it would have on my family, with the destruction of my farm. It is hard to see a bright future for Brazil, and for that matter any other indebted third world nation. First world countries need to be more sympathetic to Brazil and other third world nations. They need to recognize they are straining Brazil rather than stimulating its growth. It seems to me that Brazil is a host, for first world hosts which I consider parasites which will continually use us.
My family has endured many hardships. I blame strongly first world lenders, and the S.A.P. s. first world lenders imposed on Brazil. They are ruining traditional culture in many small communities including my own. First world countries look out for the benefit of themselves expanding the gap of the rich and poor.
I think globalization as a whole is a very deteriorating process. It is causing hardship for millions of people. Millions of people that don t even have a say in what policies rule their lives. The solution lies in cutting out free trade, and imposing regulatory laws that help promote wealth among everyone instead of concentrating it the hands of a small population. It is important that the world recognize the upcoming event in Canada as a deteriorating process that takes place in the world. Stopping the expansion of free trade to all of the America s is a step towards fighting free trade. To help stabilize and develop Brazil, its debt needs to be wiped clean. Brazil needs this to be able to again regain a sense of nationality for its people. The current lack of public program funds is responsible for a disheartened morale around Brazil.
I hope I will be able to sustain, if not expand my farm for the Benefit of my family. I hope that the first world recognizes the dull future it has projected for many people in Brazil. Once this recognition is made, only then could the global economy stimuate Brazil and help it grow, instead of having run by First world lenders, and big business.