Historically abandoned by the State, Brazil’s poor and working class have seen an already precarious situation deteriorate further as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over half a million people have had their lives cut short in little over a year – the second highest death count worldwide – thanks in large part to the deranged and remorseless rightwing government of Jair Bolsonaro and his allies.
While the deaths alone are an immense tragedy, the pandemic’s socio-economic ripple effects – like the virus itself – disproportionately affect the poor and working class. As the face of Brazil – with its incredible beauty, vibrant culture as well as its brutal inequality, corruption and violence – Rio de Janeiro demonstrates the hardships endured by Brazil’s urban poor and working classes as well as their resilience, resistance and sense of solidarity.
Through this lens it becomes clear how during a crisis and in the absence of an effective State presence, marginalized communities are forced to rely on themselves and each other in order to survive. This sentiment is expressed simply in the phrase “Nós por Nós”: Us for Our Own.