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Brazil’s 2020 in numbers

. Dec 21, 2020
covid Photo: Lalandrew/Shutterstock

This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week, we look back at the numbers throughout 2020, the year of Covid-19. Join us as we look back on a turbulent year.

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7.2 million Covid-19 cases, nearly 200,000 deaths

Brazil’s first coronavirus case was confirmed late in February, when the country quickly spiraled into one of the world’s hotbeds for the disease.

Led by President Jair Bolsonaro, the government failed to instruct the population to observe isolation measures and the virus spread unchecked in multiple regions. In Manaus, the local health system collapsed and municipal funeral services were forced to hold mass burials due to the sheer amount of bodies.&nbsp;</p> <p>Between September and November, cases and deaths went down and authorities declared a victory against Covid-19. But a second wave is coming strong —&nbsp;and data shows it is spreading even faster than before. It took 34 days for the total number of cases to jump from 4 to 5 million, and 44 days to go from 5 to 6 million. But Brazil&#8217;s last 1 million cases were recorded in just 26 days. Meanwhile, on December 17, daily deaths reached four figures for the first time since September.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 600 emergency salary</h2> <p>Back in March, Congress granted an emergency salary of BRL 600 for informal workers and disabled people. Single-parent households also received a BRL 1,200 monthly check. Over 118 million people benefited from the <a href="https://www.gov.br/cidadania/pt-br/acoes-e-programas/covid-19/transparencia-e-governanca/auxilio-emergencial-1">policy</a>, which was halved in September due to budgetary constraints. It is set to expire at the turn of the year —&nbsp;and economists believe tens of millions will instantly fall below the poverty line.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>0 privatizations</h2> <p>Elected on a platform of economic libertarianism, President Jair Bolsonaro promised to pursue a vast <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/02/04/jair-bolsonaro-privatization-plan/">agenda of privatizations</a>. But in two years, absolutely no <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2018/11/09/brazil-privatization-austerity/">federally-owned company</a> has been passed to the private sector — and the concession auctions that did occur were mostly organized by Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s predecessor, Michel Temer. Still, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes appears bullish for 2021, saying next year will be a &#8220;turning point&#8221; for the Brazilian sluggish economy. Bear in mind, Mr. Guedes said the same about 2020.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>GDP: -4.4 percent</h2> <p>Despite a sluggish 2019, economic analysts believed that the Brazilian economy would finally pick up some steam this year. The Central Bank&#8217;s Focus Report, a weekly survey with top-rated investment firms, brought a median forecast for GDP growth of 2.3 percent at the start of the year. But as Covid-19 hit Brazil and nearly halted the in-person economy for a full quarter, the country could end 2020 with GDP <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/12/03/economy-brazil-big-q3-growth-will-not-erase-covid-crash/">falling 4.4 percent</a>. And things could have been worse if it weren&#8217;t for massive government handouts.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>5,567 new mayors</h2> <p>Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil held municipal elections in 5,567 municipalities this year. Election Day was postponed from October to November as a way to lower transmission risks at polling booths. In sanitary terms, the electoral went as planned —&nbsp;but a <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/11/18/explaining-brazil-podcast-who-tried-to-hack-the-brazilian-election/">hack</a> of government systems delayed vote counts and raised conspiracy theories on the reliability of the Brazil&#8217;s otherwise spotless electoral voting system in place for two decades. Officials and experts assure the hack had no effect on the integrity of the election.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Instant payments raise BRL 83.4 billion</h2> <p>On November 16, the Brazilian Central Bank launched its new instant payment system, <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/11/04/explaining-brazil-podcast-banking-instant-payment-pix-up-steam/">PIX</a>. During its first month of operations, Brazilians made over 92 million transactions amounting to BRL 83.4 billion (USD 16.3 billion), accounting for one-third of all wire transfers in Brazil.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>More immigrant workers, fewer refugees&nbsp;</h2> <p>According to the Justice Ministry, the number of <a href="https://g1.globo.com/mundo/noticia/2020/12/17/numero-de-imigrantes-com-carteira-assinada-no-brasil-quase-triplica-em-10-anos.ghtml">formal immigrant workers</a> in Brazil jumped by 55,100 to 147,700 between 2010 and 2019. The data does not account for 2020, a year that saw migration flows halted as countries closed their borders to avoid imported cases.&nbsp;</p> <p>Between March — when the pandemic was declared — and November, only 14,265 people filed refugee claims in Brazil, according to data from the Justice Ministry. That is a 76-percent decrease from the same period of last year, and almost all claims (12,409) were recorded in January and February. The drop makes sense, given that Brazilian borders were closed for months — still, that did not necessarily stop refugees from entering the country, notably from Venezuela.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>29-percent increase in Amazon deforestation</h2> <p>In one year, the <a href="https://brazilian.report/environment/2020/09/28/brazil-forests-lost-an-area-almost-the-size-of-spain-in-18-years/">Amazon lost</a> 6,536 square kilometers of forest area, an increase of 29 percent compared to the previous year. The analysis covers the months between August 2019 and July 2020. The degradation of the Amazon forest also increased by 465 percent in the last year. In total, 4,417 square kilometers of degraded land was detected. The research was carried out by the Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon (Imazon).</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>14.6 percent workers unemployed</h2> <p>Back in June, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes proudly said that the worst was behind Brazil, and that the country would “surprise everyone” with its coronavirus recovery. However, Brazil is posting record <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2020/10/23/brazil-unemployment-hits-new-records-but-worse-is-yet-to-come/">unemployment</a> rates every month. The level hit 14.6 percent in Q3 2020 — up 1.3 points from the previous quarter. However, economists say that Brazil’s unemployment is about to get much more severe once the coronavirus emergency salary comes to an end in December.

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Ariádne Mussato

Ariadne Mussato is a social media expert

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