This is my story. It isn't pretty, but it's true.
I was 12 years old when the election night happened. I couldn't tell what that meant for me, for my family, for my country. I have the memory engraved in my mind of asking my mother whether she would watch the results on TV and seeing her defeated face as she said, “No need. I’m going to bed. Tomorrow will be a tough day.” I had no idea what that meant, but it seemed as if the results of that election were more important than I could comprehend. I had never seen my mom look so somber until that day.
The results of that election were more important than I could comprehend. I had never seen my mom look so somber until that day.
My mother was a campaign attorney for the conservative party in Brazil, and as is known to happen with Socialists and their policies, the persecution against conservatives was almost immediate from the moment that they took power. My mother had years of experience and two bachelor’s degrees. She was probably one of the most qualified attorneys in town, but what most people fail to realize is that Socialism overregulates and overtaxes businesses, making it impossible for small businesses to thrive. The biggest employer was the government, and our family was unfortunately blacklisted.
Up until that day, I was a typical teenager. I had my own room with my own bed. I had a dog. I had friends, and I would sometimes hang out at the mall with them. Then things changed forever. Not only did I lose everything, but I also had to learn how to navigate in a new world of poverty and ever-growing physical danger. I went from “My mom is a lawyer” to homeless in a matter of weeks. And let me tell you, society is not kind to the homeless.
I went from “My mom is a lawyer” to homeless in a matter of weeks. And let me tell you, society is not kind to the homeless.
Through the years, my mother kept attempting to get business and to find a job. She did what she could, but the reality was that the economy was dying. In the beginning, we were stepped on by those who had something. Eventually, even those individuals lost everything. The poverty that had started with my family was now widespread, and everyone was trying to find a way to survive.
I had, of course, no training on how to survive. On many occasions I found myself running, hiding, and eating old, spoiled food. The reality is that Socialist governments regulate law-abiding businesses. Only the businesses that aren't subject to government regulation and pay no taxes thrive. Some examples of these “businesses” are all sorts of trafficking, robbery, and murder. They became more profitable, and in some instances, bigger than the government. Not even the police could stop them, and as a female teenager growing up in a crime-ridden place where the rule of law was non-existent, you can only imagine some of the things that I and many other girls and women went through.
Socialist governments regulate law-abiding businesses. Only the businesses that are not subject to government regulation and pay no taxes thrive.
I remember at the age of 14 being alone at a public gathering when one man from a drug gang threw something at me. He thought it was funny, but it hurt me. I immediately complained, and he felt that he had been challenged in front of his gang by me. He came at me, and nobody around stopped him, fearing retaliation. He pushed me to the ground and kicked me. I saw that his partners were joining in. I knew I had to act quickly before things escalated beyond control. I ran as fast as I could and jumped into the nearby river. Eventually, I snuck out of the river when they weren’t looking. I was amazed at how many people watched it happen and did not dare to interfere, fearing for their lives.
He came at me, and nobody around stopped him, fearing retaliation. He pushed me to the ground and kicked me.
I wish I could say that was the only time violence found me. It wasn’t. Hopping from home to home, walking miles alone day and night trying to make it to school and to work (I had menial jobs to try to support myself even if slightly), trying to save 25 cents for the bus ride... Merely walking to all of these destinations put me in the path of much violence. I remember telling my mother about wanting to quit school because the day before, during my walk, someone pointed a gun in my face. My mother’s response was “There’s nothing I can do.”
I was hopeless. I was seeing girls around me not make it back home. I was always in a state of extreme awareness and panic. It was no way to live. I used to think that every New Year would bring new beginnings, but things only got worse. I even considered suicide. I was not living; I was merely surviving. A 16-year-old girl with the soul of a 100-year-old woman. Where was my youth? Where was my quinceanera? Where were the travels, the boys, the diary writing, the normal life that I thought I could always have?
I used to think that every New Year would bring new beginnings, but things only got worse. I even considered suicide.
Enough was enough. I took charge of my own destiny. And at that time, most of the country felt the same. I joined several youth movements demanding our government to step down and stop bankrupting our country. The government did not go down easy. We kept going back and taking the streets, day after day, under the sun, fighting against all the tricks they had in the books, and in the end, we prevailed. We prevailed. I hope you can feel the sense of relief behind these words. Finally, there was hope after all.
Coming to America
Due to family reasons, I moved to the United States in 2014. I never got to see the fruits of my activism in Brazil in person, only from a distance. Upon arriving here, I was in shock to find a country yearning for the policies that my home country was struggling to get away from. I remembered how I felt as a woman in a Socialist country and how I never wanted to feel that way again.
I’m sorry for those who advocate for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders, but while I live I will always fight against Socialism in all of its forms...for myself and for the women in America because I know they will be the first to suffer the bitter results of its failed policies. If I hear “Socialism works, it’s just never been implemented correctly” one more time, I’m gonna be sick. The truth is, it has been implemented correctly (numerous times). And that is exactly why it’s been disastrous.