It’s a big day here in Brazil. For the past week, it’s been impossible to go anywhere in Sao Paulo without hearing “Dilma! PT! PSDB!” as well as a number of choice words I will leave to your imagination. Campaign posters are everywhere, TV stations have been airing publically funded campaign ads in specified time blocks, and the streets are filled with people handing out political propaganda. On Thursday, the fourth presidential debate was held, and over the weekend, Brazilians all over the country journeyed to their hometowns to place their votes. By now, Sunday evening, the votes are in, indicating essentially that all the excitement is culminating in six more weeks of winter.
Because no one candidate garnered the majority of the votes in today’s first round of elections, the top two candidates: the current president and PT’s Dilma Roussef and her PSDB rival Aécio Neves will go head-to-head two weeks from now. This was a surprising first round result in what has been a dramatic and even tragic election season. On August 13th, less than two months before election day, Eduardo Campos, the candidate representing Brazil’s third major party (PSB) died in a plane crash in Sao Paulo state. At the time, he was polling well behind the other two candidates, and it seemed clear that Dilma would keep the presidency. However, after tragedy struck, Campos’ vice president Marina Silva began to rise in the polls, giving all indication that this radical environmentalist who grew up poor and illiterate in an Amazonian state, might give Dilma a run for her money.
Continue reading The Honest Candidate
On Paula’s recommendation, I made the mistake of watching Cidade de Deus a few a days
ago. Now I want to smack myself a little for my last post—don’t you hate when a movie forces self-awareness (gee thanks, Paula)? There’s nothing like a movie about children killing each other in the slums, and bragging about it no less, to make you realize how lucky you are to be born into the life you have.
There are a lot of really thoughtful full reviews on imdb, so I won’t try to write my own here, but what the movie did really effectively for me was to convey the idea of an almost parallel universe of dreams and ambitions. In my extreme naivety, I had mostly assumed that people performing acts of violence, like those in the movie, simply knew no other way to get the money they needed in order to live or to buy the drugs they are addicted to. Probably they’d never had good role models or the education that would help them make a different choice or even have the opportunity to make a different choice. While I am sure this is often the case, what really shocked me were the children who wholly reveled in violence and causing pain to other people. As a young child brags in one of the more famous lines, “A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.” Maybe I just haven’t seen enough mafia movies (or need to re-read Lord of the Flies?), but this film made me realize that growing up in a favela can give you a very different idea of what success is. Sure there are some kids, like the narrator, who want nothing to do with the drug wars and just want to get out of the slums, but it seems like the greatest ambition of the vast majority is to be the biggest “hood” with the most power.
Continue reading Cidade de Deus