During the 2018 election campaign, rumors spread on social media claiming that if he were made president, Jair Bolsonaro intended to scrap Bolsa Família—Brazil’s world-renowned welfare cash-transfer program. This is a standard tactic from the left, but the chance of the initiative being canceled is always remote: Bolsa Família is popular, it works, and it is cheap.
However, after one year of Jair Bolsonaro in office, Bolsa Família is going through its most uncertain period since its creation in 2004. Budgetary constraints have seen new claimants left on a waiting list that now includes over 1.5 million families. The burden of caring for these needy citizens is falling on local governments, which themselves are cash-strapped. Small municipalities have reported cases of poor families knocking on the doors of council buildings, requesting food and basic necessities.