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Election Time in Alemão: Garbage, Political Smiles and Opinions

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With the elections here once again, the electoral routine we are accustomed to in Complexo do Alemão is at full throttle. There are always the same clichés: people who you never knew existed appear with the most beautiful (or not) smiles plastered on their faces, headshots retouched by photoshop, polluting the streets. Alone or in cheesy collages with other politicians or important figures, who most likely, like us, don’t know who these people are.

“I understand the candidates have to use propaganda to divulge information, but it is complicated,” said university student André, on the visual pollution.

It is not news to anyone that here in Brazil, our political candidates do not have the best credibility amongst the people. This also happens where I live; differently from what many may think, we are not people who only think about funk, crime, and other related subjects. We have people who hold opinions. I just don’t know how many they are. Of course, that’s how it is in any place. When I ask my friends about the candidates, like me, the majority of them are not very interested in who is going to be our senator or congressperson. Their vote will probably be blank.

“I am going to spoil the ballot like always. These people only remember this place during elections. When they’re over, everyone will disappear,” said Marcos, a business owner from Complexo do Alemão.

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Even so, we like to discuss what each candidate for governor would do if he won. We do this for the presidential candidate too, without ever saying who is better or worse. It is cool that way. What isn’t cool is when people create differences with someone because of a difference in opinion, whatever that may be.

Regardless of my and my friends’ disinterest in these candidates, however, these are faces that are recognizable here: community leaders, pastors, and others who for some reason have their names brought up in conversation by a large number of people, different from yours truly. Otherwise, they would not have invested in an area such as this one.

It is because of this that there will always be a large number of people who will vote for someone. That is a fact. Whether the candidate deserves it or not, it is the same conversation as always: our politicians only think of their own interests. Whichever the topic may be, from construction done in the community by the candidate’s party to those who brought new jobs and scholarships, to the candidate who has a strong religious stance that pleases a lot of people, or even that candidate that just “seems cool.” Someone always has their turn.

As the stay-at-home mom Dona Maria summarizes: “It is the same junk as always. Despite the fact that I already know who I am going to vote for, it is dirt in all directions.”

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Returning to the point about the visual pollution, well…. It is the same stuff that we see in the rest of the city. If I had to point to a difference from within Complexo do Alemão, I imagine it would be the greater amount of liberty on the side of the candidates. Even with the good work done with the supervision of the Regional Electoral Tribunal (TRE) to collect irregular propaganda, I can’t imagine that it would be very attractive to enter into an area where gunshots are exchanged any time of the day. As always, the excess propaganda and posters will be left over for the cleaning service workers in the community to pick up, like José, the local trash collector.

“It is the worst time of year other than carnival,” he complained. “Because I work much more than I should. If it rains, that is the worst of all. It is a lot of paper to clog the sewerage.”