(23 Oct 2017) When Leticia Miranda had a job selling newspapers on the streets, she earned about 160 US dollars a month, just enough to pay for a tiny apartment she shared with her 8-year-old son in a poor neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro.
When she lost her job about six months ago, amid Brazil's worst economic crisis in decades, Miranda had no choice but to move to an abandoned building where several hundred people were already living.
All of her possessions, a bed, a fridge, a stove and some clothes, have been jammed into a small room that like all the others in the building has windows with no glass.
Residents bathe in large garbage cans filled with water and do their best to live with the stench of mountains of rubbish and rummaging pigs in the centre of the building.
"My life used to be wonderful," said Miranda, 28.
"I came here and now it is just sadness."
Miranda has been applying for jobs she said, but has so far been unsuccessful in getting one.
Between 2004 and 2014, tens of millions of Brazilians emerged from poverty and the country was often cited as an example for the world.
High prices for the country's raw materials and newly developed oil resources helped finance social welfare programmes that put money into the pockets of the poorest.
But that trend has been reversed over the last two years due to the deepest recession in Brazil's history and cuts to the subsidy programmemes, raising the spectre that this nation has lost its way in addressing massive inequalities that go back to colonial times.
The World Bank estimates that about 28.6 million people moved out of poverty between 2004 and 2014.
But the bank estimates that between 2016 and the end of this year, 2.5 million to 3.6 million Brazilians will have fallen back below the poverty line of 140 Brazilian reais per month, about 44 US dollars at current exchange rates.
But economists say that those figures are likely underestimates and don't capture the fact that many lower-middle class Brazilians, who gained ground during the boom years, have since slid back closer to the poverty line.
Economist Daniel Sousa of Rio's Ibmec University argues that cuts to key social welfare programmes could exacerbate the problems.
Meanwhile, budgetary pressures and the conservative policies of President Michel Temer are translating into cuts in social services.
Among those hit is the Bolsa Familia - Family Allowance - programme that gives small subsidies each month to qualifying low-income people.
It's credited with much of the poverty reduction during Brazil's boom decade.
Non-labor income, including social programmes like Bolsa Familia, accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty during the boom decade, according to Emmanuel Skoufias, a World Bank economist and one of the authors of the report on Brazil's "new poor."
Now, even as job losses have been pushing more people toward the programme, fewer are being covered.
"I'm going through an incredibly difficult time," said 40-year-old Simone Batista, tears streaming down her face as she recounted being cut from Bolsa Familia after her now one-year-old was born.
She wants to appeal, but doesn't have enough money to take buses to the administrative office.
Batista lives in Jardim Gramacho, a slum in northern Rio where she and hundreds of other destitute residents find food by rummaging through garbage illegally dumped in the area.
An Associated Press review of Bolsa Familia data found that coverage declined 4 percentage points between May 2016, when Temer became acting president, and May of this year.
Part of that may be due to a crackdown on alleged fraud that started late last year.
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This is the result of the mismanagement of the economy and the rampant corruption that is all too clear in our institutions and administrations, this is nothing new in our nation, our only hope is that as this misery spreads more and more people that have tasted some of what one can only call the minimum amount of dignity from their nation, will form a cohesive voice and demand that the institutions they pay for and give up their liberties to will finally fulfill their duties. It is easy to say this but it must be said I am tired that my nation is a synonym for corruption and scandal. Our current administrative and legislative actions makes us nothing more than proud ignorant baboons that know not what to do with the vast lands and peoples that fortune and blood has blessed us with. We must stop squandering our people; they are an asset not a burden and we through them aside like they are waste. If we continue on this path our nation deserves ruination.
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