End of Bolsa Familia rumor spreads panic

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“Some believed it was due to Pope Francis’s visit to Rio in July. Others thought it was because of the Confederations Cup to be held next month. Rumors that the Bolsa Família program would be suspended made thousands of people who benefit from the federal government’s social program form long lines at Caixa Econômica Federal bank branches in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro and in the Baixada Fluminense on Saturday afternoon – they wanted to withdraw the funds given by the federal government.

The rumor was denied by the federal government and by Caixa, but the denial didn’t reach most beneficiaries, who rushed to Caixa banks. “They are saying that the government will pay the next three months by Sunday, May 19, and then cancel the program. My neighbor already withdrew her money and said the government wants to save up to pay for the celebrations for the Pope,” said Janúbia Silva Alves, 29, a resident of Baixa do Sapateiro, one of the slums that comprises the Complexo da Maré, in Bonsucesso (North zone of Rio).

She has two children and receives R$ 134 from the Bolsa Família program.Alves and two of her friends were part of a group of more than 150 people who spent the afternoon in one of the Caixa agencies in the neighborhood. Part of the Maré and Complexo Alemão are in Bonsucesso.

On Sunday at 5:03 pm, the ATM machines in the bank stopped working after they ran out of cash. When the first person in line said the money had finished, the people started to scream. “The people on my street say the government is canceling the funds. That’s why I came as fast as I could,” said Maria José Barbosa, 40, who didn’t know much about the rumor.

She is the mother of four children, one of them a baby, and wanted to receive R$ 195. Her money is deposited on the 28th of every month. She lives in the Adeus slum, the first stop of the Alemão lift. At the other Caixa branch in the neighborhood, Michele Silva encouraged her neighbors to stay in line. On Saturday, she withdrew the May payment and tried to receive the amount equivalent to two other months. “I read online that the Bolsa Família program will be suspended for three months due to the Confederations Cup.

I was told that some friends received the money for the three months on Saturday and I came here to receive the other two payments,” said Silva, a resident of Maré.On Sunday at 5:20 pm, 109 people were in line inside the stuffy branch on Cardoso de Morais street.

Not even a poster saying that the payments will not be suspended made the people give up. “Nobody here believes in politicians. I will stay in line until midnight to receive my money,” said Silva, 31, the mother of three children.

Similar rumors led to a rush to ATM machines in capital cities of northeastern Brazil as alarmed beneficiaries tried to withdraw the payments. There are preliminary report of disorder in Alagoas and Maranhão. The Brazilian Federal Police is investigating the origin of the rumors.” – Source

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