A Crisis of Low Self-Esteem 
in Brazil

    Brazilians have the
    lowest self-esteem in Latin America. Only 22
    percent of Brazilians say that they trust their countrymen.
    Compare this to Uruguay in which the trust is 64 percent,
    Colombia (55 percent) and Chile (52 percent). In Brazil, most
    people also tend to overvalue everything that’s made overseas.
    by: Carolina
    Pimentel

    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on July 19, inaugurated a campaign
    with the theme, "The best thing Brazil has is Brazilians." The campaign
    is being sponsored by the ABA (Associação Brasileira de Anunciantes—Brazilian
    Advertisers Council) with the idea of improving the population’s self-esteem,
    which has been somewhat sluggish.

    The ABA reports that a
    2002 survey by the Sebrae (Serviço de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas
    Empresas—Small Business Administration) found that the main problems
    Brazilians have are low self-esteem, coupled with a tendency to overvalue
    foreign-made goods.

    The ABA also used data
    from a survey by Latino Barômetro, a Chilean public opinion institute,
    that found that Brazilians have the lowest self-esteem in Latin America, with
    only 22 percent of those interviewed saying they trusted their countrymen
    (in Uruguay, Colombia and Chile, the numbers were 64 percent, 55 percent and
    52 percent, respectively).

    In order to give Brazilian
    self-esteem a boost, the ABA is counting on an emotional publicity campaign
    showing people who overcame obstacles. They will be famous people and unknowns
    and their stories will appear on radio, TV, and in newspapers and magazines.

    The campaign is to be
    entirely a public service operation based on voluntary efforts. Brazil’s main
    media groups have already promised to cooperate. The ABA expects the private
    sector and government agencies to also join in extolling Brazilian talent,
    capabilities and accomplishments.

    Pessimism

    Fear of unemployment remains
    high among Brazilians. Three months ago a CNI/Ibope poll found that 54 percent
    of those interviewed thought unemployment would rise. The latest survey at
    the end of June has found that 55 percent now think there will be fewer jobs.

    However, a breakdown of
    the survey shows that among those with higher levels of education and income
    there is more optimism than three months ago. The opposite is true among those
    with lower education levels and income: they are more pessimistic.

    "The view from the
    bottom of the social pyramid is worse, at least regarding jobs," explains
    Amauri Teixeira, a marketing specialist who analyzed the

    Cautious Optimism

    With optimism, but also
    caution, was the way President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva described
    how he felt about the news of record industrial output in May. Production
    was up 2.2 percent, the highest since September 2003.

    Speaking to the nation
    during his fortnightly radio talk, "Breakfast with the President,"
    Lula explained that the reason for caution was because his government wanted
    "long-term, sustainable growth," not just a good month.

    "That is why we have
    to be cautious. That is why we are working patiently. That is why we ask the
    people to pay attention to what is happening in Brazil," said Lula, adding
    that the measures his administration was implementing to ensure sustainable
    growth could have been put in place a long time ago.

    The President pointed
    to more financing for agriculture, especially family farming, and easier credit
    access for workers. "Banks are making these loans at low interest rates,
    microfinancing is expanding, the BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento
    Econômico e Social—Brazilian Development Bank) has a lot of money
    for corporations that want to invest in projects that create growth, jobs
    and income distribution," the President declared.


    Carolina Pimentel works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
    agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.

    Translated
    from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.

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