The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
Corruption is endemic to Brazilian politics, where convicted felons may run for office and elected officials are routinely caught accepting bribes in exchange for political favor. Brazil was ranked 73 out of 182 countries in the 2011 Corruption Perception Index. Although many politicians support anti-corruption measures, they are wary to sponsor an anti-corruption bill, especially after multiple reform bills failed to pass in the National Congress in recent years.
Brazil is the largest country in South America with resources comparable to the continental United States as well as vast amounts of land for agricultural development. At the time of this campaign, two-thirds of the population went hungry and were without work. 48% of the arable land was controlled by 1% of the population for large-scale agricultural enterprises. In 1964, there was a military coup that resulted in a twenty-one year military dictatorship and small farmers were pushed off their land, which was taken by the government.
On March 31, 1983, protesters took to the streets for the first time in the city of Abreu e Lima in the state of Pernambuco to show their support for the newly introduced Dante de Oliveira Constitutional Amendment, named after the Congressional representative who introduced it. The Amendment was proposed to change the electoral process by which Brazil elected its presidents. The current system involved indirect elections that continuously put up presidents from the armed forces through an electoral college in the Congress.
In 1964 the military took control of the Brazilian government in a coup d’état and began a twenty-year military rule. The government often had disagreements with the Catholic clergy in Brazil, especially foreign missionaries and priests, which made up about 40% of the Brazilian clergy. During that time many of these clergy members were espousing Liberation Theology, a use of biblical teaching for the purpose of improving and liberating the oppressed and the poor, especially the lower class in rural Brazil. However, this radical teaching often put clergy members in confront