Brazilian gypsies want to be recognized as citizens

Irene Lôbo
Reporter - Agência Brasil

Brasília - Gypsies form a group which is little known but present in the imagination of Brazilians. According to Cláudio Iovanovitchi, who represents the gypsy people on the National Council for the Promotion of Racial Equality, there are around 600 thousand gypsies in Brazil without access to government social welfare services.

"When people refer to gypsies, they have in mind people who steal little children and know nothing except telling fortunes, and that is not so. They [gypsies] hold ancestral values, embody culture and musicality, and have their own ways to treat illness," says the executive coordinator of the 1st National Conference for the Promotion of Racial Equality, Jorge Carneiro.

The main demand of the group is the right to receive birth certificates. This and other demands will be presented at the conference. The right to receive birth certificates represents the first step in acquiring other documents necessary for gypsies to exercise their rights as citizens, which will be even more difficult, since they have no permanent address.

According to Carneiro, statistics indicate that 90% of the gypsy population is illiterate. They also want to have access to the government's social programs.

The 1st National Conference for the Promotion of Racial Equality begins tomorrow (30) and runs through July 2, in Brasília.

Translation: David Silberstein


There is another way of advancing our brethren in Brazil and that is our own ID cards, passports, and documents, issued by our own institutions.