Brazil's 'invisibles' suffer as aid dries up

33-year-oldTatiana Araujo de Sirqueira and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are almost neighbors, but they live in different universes.

Living by a landfill less than a mile away from the presidential palace in Brasilia, the single mother of six is struggling to make ends meet by recycling trash.

“I see the president and his security pass by here every day. The president sees me. He says he doesn't, but he does. How can he pass by every day and not see the families here?"

Sirqueira is one of Brazil’s 40 millionso-called “invisibles”, a government-coined term for people without formal employment.

Like millions of others, Sirquiera saw a glimmer of hope when the government issued a $60 billion pandemic relief package last year. But now, as government aid dries up and the pandemic shows no signs of easing, Siquiera isn't sure what to do next, briefly lifted out of poverty only to be tossed back again.

"I was cut off from the emergency aid in November. They said I no longer met the criteria and so I can no longer be part of the programme."

Brazil is set to launch a new, significantly smaller aid package in April.

However, even with the new round of cash handouts, experts say poverty is likely to remain high. An estimated 27 million Brazilians now live below the poverty line, the most since a decade ago, according to a local think tank.

The South American country is recording record new COVID-19 deaths every day, with the world’s second highest death toll from the disease. And hundreds have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest growing hunger and unemployment.

But for Sirqueira, life might be even worse. Local authorities bulldozed her small shack on Tuesday, forcing her family to relocate outside the capital.