7. Doing the right thing

Posted: 29 June 2001

Porto Alegre, capital of Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, was once a run-of-the mill, dirty, Brazilian port city. Today, it's the showcase for an experiment in direct democracy that's giving all Porte Alegre's citizens a say in how their city is run, through the Participatory Budgeting scheme.

People who haven't been to Porto Alegre for the last eight or nine years are amazed at the transformation of the city: unemployment has fallen, the public transport system's been revolutionized, and poor neighbourhoods have changed out of all recognition.

A counter-argument to prevailing neo-liberal economic theory, the Participatory Budget scheme earmarks the bulk of the city's financial resources for its neediest citizens, renewing the infrastructure of slum areas, and providing income-generating projects in previously no-go areas run by drug traffickers. One result is that exceptional neighbourhood leaders have emerged from the most unlikely backgrounds. Doing the Right Thing follows three leaders around town, as they describe how immersing themselves in the particpatory budget has changed their lives.

This film forms part of TVE's Life Series ll on City Life. For a copy of this 30-minute film, contact:

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