HIV, Drug Use, Crime and the Penal System – competing priorities in a developing counrty, the case of Brazil
John Dunn, Ronaldo R. Laranjeira and José Roberto P. Marins
Geographically speaking, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and has an estimated population of over 146 million. Although a developing country, it is rich in natural resources and has a strong agricultural industry. Three quarters of the population live in cities, the largest of which is São Paulo with a population of around 15 million.
The Portuguese colonized the country in the fifteenth century and Brazil finally achieved independence in 1822. From 1964 to 1985 the country was run as a military dictatorship and after a transitional government became a democratic republic in 1989. The first elected president to take office was impeached following allegations of corruption but a degree of both political and economic stability have been established under the following two presidents. Despite political and economic reforms, massive social inequalities persist and over one third of the population live below the poverty line. Striking inequalities can often be seen side by side, with luxury apartments and mansions rubbing shoulders with
favelas or shanty towns, where the houses are made of wood and cardboard, there is no sanitation and children run semi-naked in the litter strewn streets.