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What did Lula and Dilma do differently for human rights?
First, unlike the PSDB government, Lula and Dilma took the historic decision to govern for all Brazilians - with special attention to the poorest and the most vulnerable segments. Women, blacks, children and teens, the elderly, people with disabilities, LGBT people and victims of violence in general, exclusion, discrimination and abuse, gained both visibility and a number of public policies for respecting and supporting their rights.
What gains have been made in these last 12 years?
There have been many: the approval of the Maria da Penha Law, the creation of the Truth Commission, the Quota Law for black youths, the implementation of National Rights of Persons with Disabilities Plan (Living without Limits), the fight against homophobia and promoting LGBT rights, the approval of the slave labor PEC, the demarcation of the Serra Raposa do Sol Indian reservation, the creation of the National Prevention and Combating of Torture system, the creation of the National Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health and the approval of Law that transforms sexual abuse of children and teenagers into a heinous crime, among many others.
What, in practice, have these actions brought about that is positive? For example, did the Maria da Penha Law end domestic violence against women?
A law by itself is not able to eliminate such a problem. But the Women's Policies Secretariat estimates that 300,000 women's lives have been saved since the law came went into effect in 2006. During this period, about 100,000 arrest warrants against aggressors were issued.
What have the Lula and Dilma administrations done on behalf of thhe black population?
For Lula and Dilma, Brazil needs affirmative action to finally and completely overcome racial prejudice and discrimination. And these policies were implemented at the beginning of the Lula government, with the sanction of Law 10.639, which made the teaching of Afro-Brazilian history and culture compulsory in schools across the country. A key advance was the sanctioning of the law establishing quotas for blacks in higher education. With the passage of this law and the implementation of actions such as the University for All Program (Prouni), the Financial Aid Fund (FIES) and the expansion of the federal system of higher education, the number of black students in higher education has tripled in 12 years.
What does all this represent in terms of promoting racial equality?
Between 2003 and 2013, with Lula and Dilma, the income of the black and mixed-race population grew 51.4%, while the white population increased 27.8%, according to the IBGE. Even so, the income of blacks still accounts for only 57.4% of whites — a sign that affirmative policies need to continue to increase even more. But the signs that we are moving forward are clear. The 2010 Census, for example, brought a surprise. For the first time, Brazilians who declared themselves black and mixed race appeared as the majority: 50.7%. In the previous census (2000), a majority of the population (53.7%) declared as white. Far from any increase in the birth rate, the explanation for the phenomenon lies in the increasing self-esteem of the black population, thanks to affirmative policies initiated in the Lula government and expanded by Dilma.