By Iffat Ikram
When you study politics in class, or maybe when you scroll through your newsfeeds, do you ever feel curious to know what exactly democracies look like across the world? How do politics work in foreign countries? If these questions swim through your mind, we appreciate your curiosity, and we have got you covered.
Learning about different countries’ governments not just increases your knowledge, but also helps in creating active citizens. Awareness is the path to becoming a global citizen, and hence, we bring to you ‘A Talk Through The World’, a blog series interviewing people from countries across the world, asking them questions about their politics and youth involvement. So, let us buckle up in our seats for this edifying ride.
For our first article in this series, we interviewed Júlia Carolina, a 16-year-old Brazilian, who is very passionate about her country’s development and tries her best to make people outside of her nation more aware about her country’s stance. We asked Carolina some of the most important questions of the hour, and through these questions, we also got to see what is happening inside Brazil through her eyes.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
“My name is Júlia Carolina, I’m 16-years-old. I am passionate about learning languages, talking to people, especially when they’re from other countries [and] also about reading and studying about politics and economics.”
Can you tell us a little about your country and where you live?
“I’m from Salvador, Brazil. Brazil is the biggest country and biggest economy in Latin America, but as a developing country, Brazil suffers with several social issues, the most pressing being inequality. The country was a Portuguese colony from 1500 to 1822, a period that introduced slavery here. Needless to say, slavery and colonization shaped the nation, creating a racist, patriarchal and unequal society. Since I came from Brazil’s first city and capital, Salvador, I can evidence this easily. Salvador has the biggest Black population outside of Africa, but those people are a minority in the private schools.”
Would you classify your country as a democratic one? Are you satisfied with your form of government or do you see the need for a change?
“Brazil is a democratic country. Even though our democracy could and should be stronger, yes I’d say I live in a democracy.” She expressed how her democracy is far from ideal but she would rather strive for its betterment than live in a non-democratic country.
How would you connect the development status of your country with your government?
“Brazil is gripped in an economic recession, people lost their jobs, students don’t study because of Bolsonaro’s admiration of the pandemic.”
The inflation surge was heartbreaking. Many Brazilians have lost their jobs during this pandemic, and critics and activists around the country blame the president Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil has had a record of high and volatile inflation rates, and with the unemployment rates rising, getting the labor force to pre-pandemic state seems to be very difficult.
What is the scenario around voting in your country? Is there a good voter turn-out?
“…Since voting is mandatory in Brazil, everyone votes. Yet, people are unsatisfied with politics, so I don’t believe they’re studying much about the candidates before voting.”
Following Carolina’s claim, we found out that Brazil has a 79.54% average voter turnout in elections, proving that Brazil certainly has a high voter turn-out.
What is the voting age of your country? Do you agree with this age?
“It’s mandatory to vote from the age of 18, but you can vote at 16. I believe it’s a good thing that the youth can vote from an early age because that promotes a culture of voting, but at the same time, we don’t receive political education. That means we have power, but we don’t know how to use it.”
How concerned or active would you say the people around you are with your country’s politics?
“I think people are not talking much about politics as they should. Probably because they are unsatisfied with the politicians and corruption, they feel outraged with politics.”
How often do you get to see protests or strikes against your government? Was there any recent action from the government that may have caused a reaction like this?
“They would be much more frequent, to be honest, if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, monthly there have been protests against the government because of the failure of the government to deal with the virus,”
Brazil certainly had one of the worst crises in its history. While the Covid cases were peaking, Brazilian president Bolsonaro vouched for ending the use of masks. Not long ago, the president was also fined because of his failure to abide by the Covid protocols at a public event. The actions of Jair Bolsonaro definitely explains the outrage by Brazilian citizens.
How does your culture or country’s culture impact your government, activism, and beliefs?
“Maybe, the fact that we don’t receive political education, makes us not talk and participate in politics effectively and allows “outsiders” to threaten our democracy.”
Do you think the democratic status of your country is hollowing because of your government’s actions and suppression?
“YES, the current government threatens the Judiciary, [President Jair Bolsonaro] participates in protest against it and is asking for a dictatorship.”
Can you tell us one unique thing about your country, politically or culturally?
“Oh us Brazilians make fun of everything, including our chaotic political situation.”
And lastly, is there anything you would like to share with the readers of this interview, that we may have missed out?
“I believe the election of 2022 will be polarized and violent because the main candidates are Bolsonaro and Lula, both hated by sectors of the population. However, I do believe that with the youth at its toes, there is hope for our country.”
Iffat Ikram is a high school sophomore from Assam, India and a blog writer for Youth Upholding Democracy. The views reflected in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Youth Upholding Democracy.