Quotas in universities and in the civil service, tougher penalties for racist insults: since 2010, the Brazilian left has taken a series of measures to try to mitigate theRacial inequalities in a country where the black population is the majority.
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The most recent effort came to light this week, with a decree signed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that reserves at least 30% of positions of trust in the public administration at the federal level for black and mixed-race people.
“Racism is at the root of inequality, that is why it must be fought like a plague on a plantation,” Lula said Tuesday when signing the document.
According to the most recent data from the official statistics institute IBGE, dating from 2021 and based on self-declaration, more than 56% of Brazilians identify as black (9.1%) or mestizo (47%). But less than 30% hold positions of responsibility, both in the private sector and in the civil service.
In the 500 largest companies in Brazil, only 5% of management positions are held by blacks, according to a study by the Ethos Institute. In addition, there are important salary differences, with the average income of the black population being lower by more than 70% compared to that of the white population.
The decree signed by Lula this week “is important, because it will allow more blacks to be in places of power, to actively participate in decision-making,” Wellington Mendes, of the Brazilian Institute of Identity, which works for the inclusion of blacks in the labor market.
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“It also helps to absorb some of the black professionals who, even having the necessary qualifications, do not reach the spheres of power because of structural racism,” he insists. The following are measures taken by the left to alleviate racial inequality:
2010: Statute of racial equality
Approved at the end of Lula’s first two terms (2003-2010), this law serves as a road map for a series of measures that were taken later, because it lists the basic principles of the fight against racial inequality in Brazil.
The statute intends to “enforce equal opportunities, the defense of individual and collective ethnic rights and the fight against discrimination and other forms of ethnic intolerance.”
The text recognizes that the concept of the black population includes all persons who identify as black or mixed-race. It also mentions the need for public policies to reduce inequalities, including through quotas.
2012: First installments, in universities
The first law in history that established racial quotas in Brazil was promulgated at the beginning of the first government of the left-wing president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), endorsed by Lula to succeed him. The initiative reserves at least 50% of public university places for the black population. This law has significantly increased racial diversity in higher education, but inequalities persist in the access of black graduates to the job market.
2014: Quotas in the civil service
Two years later, a new law reserved 20% of the positions awarded in public service contests for the black population.
January 2023: Racist insults severely punished
On January 11, ten days after beginning his third term, Lula promulgated a law that toughens the penalties for racist insults, which went from being punished with a maximum of three years to between two and five years in prison.
March 2023: new quotas in the public administration
Unlike the law that came into force in 2014, the decree signed by Lula on Tuesday does not affect public service positions obtained by competition, but “trust positions”, that is, those that are filled by appointment. . It reserves 30% of these positions in the federal administration for the black population, a proportion that should be reached by 2025. According to the Minister of Racial Equality, Anielle Franco, currently only 5% of these positions are occupied by black people.
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