Walter Belik is one of the creators of Fome Zero and one of the main researchers in food insecurity in Brazil. As a retired professor at Unicamp's Institute of Economics, he argues that the Bolsonaro government is carrying out a deliberate policy of dismantling initiatives against hunger in the country.
Belik recalls the creation of Fome Zero as a multi-party project. Originally designed as a program to distribute food stamps in exchange for food, it was replaced by Bolsa Família, the flagship of Lula's social policy, and the name came to designate a food security strategy. The initiatives paved the way for Brazil to leave the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Hunger Map in 2014. The scenario changed as of 2015, says Belik, with rising inflation, the absence of recomposition of the value of social benefits and a dismantling of food security policies, especially under the Bolsonaro government.
The country returned to the Hunger Map in 2018 and, in 2020, recorded 55.2% of the population living with food insecurity, according to a survey by the Penssan Network. Scenes observed in 2021, such as people looking for bones and carcasses to feed and the various protests against hunger, cannot be credited only to the crisis caused by the pandemic, he says.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon