Development and Peace has a long history in Brazil, and its programming has developed over the years through its initial interactions with the pastoral commissions of the Brazilian Church, which were set up to address specific socioeconomic issues in the country. The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) of the Church remains an important partner of Development and Peace in strengthening peasant rights.
Through its partnerships in Brazil, Development and Peace’s program is addressing the injustices and abuses suffered by poor and marginalized communities in the name of development projects that benefit corporate interests, such as mining sites, large-scale agriculture of monocultures and the construction of hydro-electric dams. Whether in urban or rural areas, the poor and vulnerable rarely benefit from the wealth generated from these projects, and as a result Brazil has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world. Development and Peace is working to ensure that the voices of these communities are heard and their rights are respected at the municipal, state and national levels.
Despite being considered an emerging economy, Brazil has one of the largest rates of disparity between the rich and the poor in the world. The country’s wealth has been built on the backs of its poor and marginalized communities, and through the unrestrained exploitation of its natural resources. Indigenous communities have witnessed the destruction and contamination of their ancestral lands in the Amazonian rainforest, peasants have been stripped of their farms and people in the cities’ favelas are denied basic services. A major mining disaster in Minas Gerais in November 2015 exposed the dangers and lack of regulation of the extractives industries in the country.
The recent impeachment of President Dilma Roussef has placed an unelected government in power, threatening the country’s democracy, as well as recent reforms and programs attempting to create a more just society. In parallel, human rights defenders, environmental activists and poor communities have been increasingly criminalized.
The Church’s pastoral commissions remain active in working for social justice, and the Brazilian Catholic Church is a tireless actor in the struggle for social justice in Brazil. It is an active participant in the Churches and Mining in Latin America Network and the Pan Amazonian Ecumenical Network, both of which Development and Peace supports in various ways.