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Countdown to Brazil’s 2018 Elections, Part 6: Growth and Diversity of Favela Candidates


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This is the sixth article in an ongoing series on the Brazilian electoral political scene in 2018.

The immediate reaction to the death of Marielle Franco, beyond deep pain, was the strengthening of her legacy—often associated with the phrase: “They tried to bury you but didn’t realize you were a seed.’’ And as a seed, Marielle gave rise to the proliferation of black women from favelas running for office. Before Marielle, the only black women from favelas to have occupied legislative positions in the state of Rio de Janeiro were Benedita da Silva from Chapéu Mangueira and Jurema Batista from Morro do Andaraí.

In these elections, 46% of candidates registered across the entire country declared themselves black or brown—a high percentage, but still below the proportional share of this group in the Brazilian population, which is approximately 55%. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, the percentage of black and brown candidates is 48%. This percentage is higher for the positions of state representative (49%) and federal congress (46%), and lower for those of senator (30%) and governor (33%). Women comprise 31% of candidates, despite being 51% of the population. This is still an improvement compared to 14.5% in the 2016 City Council elections and is a direct reflection of the new electoral rule that determines that 30% of candidates launched by a party must be women. Black and brown women, however, comprise 27% of the Brazilian population but only 16% of candidates.

If representation is lacking among candidates, representation among elected officials is even worse: in 2016, only 0.6% of the elected city councilors were black women—and among federal deputies, 0.39%.

With regards to candidates’ place of origin, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) does not collect information beyond the municipalities corresponding to their places of birth, which makes it impossible to measure the percentage of candidates who were born in or live in favelas. Beyond internationally known former soccer star Romário who was born in Jacarezinho and is today a gubernatorial candidate, here we seek to highlight several candidates from favelas and quilombos in Rio de Janeiro who are running for the positions of state representative and federal congress, all from a wide variety of Brazil’s political parties.

See the candidates for state representative below:

Claudete Costa, City of God – Workers’ Party (PT)

“You don’t see me, but you will hear me”

Claudete Costa experienced homelessness during her childhood and adolescence in the Candelária area of downtown Rio. On the day of the Candelária Massacre, she survived because she was working with her mother at another downtown square, Praca XV. Costa has worked as a collector of recyclable materials since she was 10 years old. She now lives in City of God and is the first female coordinator of the National Movement of Recyclable Material Collectors in Rio de Janeiro (MNCR/RJ). She fought for the implementation of a recycling system at the World Cup and Olympics. Check out the campaign on Facebook.

Dani Monteiro, São Carlos – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)*

“A young black feminist to occupy the Rio de Janeiro State Legislative Assembly”

Dani Monteiro was born and raised in the favela of Zinco in Complexo do São Carlos, in Central Rio, and is currently a resident of Complexo de Manguinhos in the North Zone. The daughter of black parents and migrant grandparents from Brazil’s northeast, she started working with her father at the age of fifteen, distributing produce to restaurants, while her mother worked as a housekeeper. She is a beneficiary of affirmative action policies at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) in the social sciences program and is part of the first generation of her family to access higher education. She was an advisor to Marielle Franco, is part of the Unified Black Movement (MNU), and is the founder of the RUA Anti-Capitalist Youth Movement. Her agenda includes feminism, the right to the city, public education, and youth. Check out the campaign on Facebook.

Edna Gomes, Maré – Popular Socialist Party (PPS)

“Life is made up of survivors, of people who struggle every day”

Edna Gomes is originally from the state of Maranhão, where she began her political activities with the struggle for the emancipation of her municipality. Since 1998, she has lived in Vila do João in Complexo da Maré, where she founded the NGO Nova Direção (“New Direction”) that offers professional training programs for youth. She has worked as a saleswoman, housekeeper, and as an office assistant and is studying Marketing Technology to improve the management of her NGO. Check out her Facebook profile.

Edson the Recycler, Jorge Turco – Christian Democracy (DC)*

#TogetherForRecycling

Edson Freitas (known as “Edson the Recycler”) is a resident of Morro do Jorge Turco in Rocha Miranda, in the North Zone of the city, where he has been a collector of recyclable materials since the age of eighteen. At 32, after the overflow of a sewage canal due to excess trash, Freitas began to collect plastic bottles in his community and in neighboring communities such as Morro Faz Quem Quer. Today he coordinates Sustainable Brazil ECCO Ponto, a project of the NGO ECCO Vida, which he founded. He posits himself as a Zero Waste candidate and intends for his term to be participatory. The primary issues on his agenda are recycling and sustainable development, for which he proposes tax exemptions and specific credit lines, in addition to environmental education in schools, employment, and income generation through recycling. Check out the campaign website or on Facebook.

Fernando Ermiro, Rocinha – Party of the Brazilian Women (PMB)

#OneOfUs

Fernando Ermiro is a historian who was born and raised in Rocinha. In addition to being a community tour guide with the Rocinha Histórica project and serving as coordinator of the Sankofa Museum and the Rocinha History course, for many years he was also a teacher at the community pré-vestibular (college entrance exam preperatory course) and a columnist at community newspaper FavelaDaRocinha.com. He fights for the right to memory and the right of favela [residents] to narrate their own history. Check out the campaign on Facebook.

Gilberto Palmares, Morro da Formiga – Workers’ Party (PT)

“The effects of racism remain, and in the absence of concrete decisions…the profile of universities will be that of the most privileged–that of white people.”

Gilberto Palmares grew up in Morro da Formiga, in the North Zone of the city. As a state deputy, he has served as vice president of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on transportation, president of the Parliamentary Front to Combat Tuberculosis/AIDS and Diabetes, the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Public Welfare, and the Parliamentary Front for Freedom of Expression and Media Democratization. He was also president of the CPI on the ferry system and rapporteur of the CPI on militias. He primarily fights for public health, dignified housing, and safe transportation; for strengthening state universities; against racism and homophobia; in defense of workers; and against the privatization of the State Water and Sewerage Company (CEDAE) and [state-controlled utility] Eletrobrás. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Kátia Lopes, Vila Kennedy – Popular Socialist Party (PPS)

“With the courage to change structures”

Kátia Lopes was born and raised in Vila Kennedy and currently lives in Campo Grande, in the West Zone of the city. She is a geographer and social activist—serving as a representative of the Federation of Favelas of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAFERJ) with a history of working for the resocialization of people coming from the prison system. She is a member of the State Health Council, the State Social Work Council, and the State Human Rights Council. Check out the group in support of her campaign on Facebook.

Lourenço Cézar, Maré – Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB)

“Favela resident: the pain and pleasure of being oneself”

Lourenço Cézar has lived in Complexo da Maré for forty years. He is pursuing a master’s degree in education at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), serves as coordinator of the Department of Geography and Environment at the Faculty of Duque de Caxias, and is a director at the long-lived and internationally recognized community NGO Center for Studies and Solidarity Actions of Maré (CEASM). According to Cézar, CEASM was designed to provide residents with access to education so they would reflect more on their votes, among other [objectives]. CEASM gave rise to a range of cutting edge community programs including one of the earliest and most effective pré-vestibulares (college entrance exam preparatory course) in favelas (where Marielle in fact studied and worked), the community newspaper O Cidadãoand the Maré Museum. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

MC Carol, Morro do Preventório – Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB)

“100% Feminist”

Carolina de Oliveira Lourenço, or MC Carol, is a singer and songwriter raised in Morro do Preventório in Nitéroi whose funk music has feminist and anti-racist themes. She stated that the idea for her candidacy was influenced by the assassination of Marielle. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Monica Francisco, Borel – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)

“They took so much from us that we lost our fear”

Monica Francisco is a black feminist, social scientist, evangelical pastor, and community leader in Morro do Borel, in the North Zone of the city. Beyond being an activist in favela movements and advocating for the solidarity economy, she participated in the Community Radio Movement for many years and founded the Borel Institutions Network, the Borel Community Radio, the newspaper Formando Opinião (“Forming Opinion”), and the Arteiras Group. She has also worked as a community health agent. Francisco was a member of Marielle Franco’s team in the City Council and fights for cultural facilities in favelas, religious diversity, black lives, and women. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Renata Souza, Maré – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)

“I am because we are”

Renata Souza was born and raised in Maré. Through a community pré-vestibular she successfully gained entrance and graduated in Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio). She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in communication and culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), with research on the community newspaper O Cidadão and resistance against the militarization of life in Maré. She is currently a postdoctoral student in the Media and Daily Life Program at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF). She was Marielle Franco’s chief of staff and is committed to the continuation of her legacy. Her priorities include communication and culture, as well as public safety and resistance to militarization. She has pledged to seven citizen commitments of the Rio as a Whole Movement. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Robinho Liberdade, Alemão – Sustainability Network (REDE)*

“There will only be freedom when there is opportunity”

Robson Borges (known as Robinho Liberdade) was raised in Complexo do Alemão. He was formerly incarcerated and is currently the president of a recycling cooperative called Eu Quero Liberdade (“I Want Freedom”). The cooperative began its work in Complexo do Alemão and Complexo da Penha generating employment and income through recycling, including for other formerly incarcerated individuals. He is also part of the Popular Movement of Favelas and other cooperative movements in Rio, in addition to working with the transformation of solid waste into ecological bricks. He fights for the development of recycling cooperatives and for education and professional training in the prison system, in addition to basic health care and education in favelas. Check out the campaign on Facebook.

Serginho, Maré – Brazilian Labor Renewal Party (PRTB)*

“This is ours!”

Serginho dos Santos was born in Complexo da Maré, where he still lives today. Working since the age of ten, he is now a partner at a cleaning and maintenance company that employs approximately 3,000 people, many of whom are residents of Maré. He fights for professional training for youth as well as employment and income generation. Check out the campaign on Facebook.

Tainá de Paula, Favela do Loteamento – Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB)

“Be the city”

Tainá de Paula is an architect, urbanist, and feminist activist raised in Favela do Loteamento in Praça Seca, in the West Zone of the city. She is an advisor at the Bento Rubião Center for the Defense of Human Rights, which works with upgrading, land rights, and housing rights. She also works as a technical advisor for the Homeless Workers’ Movement of Rio de Janeiro (MTST/RJ). Her main fronts include access to the city and urban mobility, with a focus on gender and race. She has pledged to five citizen commitments of the Rio as a Whole Movement. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Xaolin, Rocinha – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)

“Rocinha is an integral part of the city”

Antônio de Mello, known as Xaolin of Rocinha, is a resident and community leader in Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, as well as a metro transit union leader. He has served as president of the Rocinha Residents’ Association and is now a member of the Popular Movement of Favelas. His fronts of action in Rocinha include the struggles for sanitation, water, electricity, schools, and health facilities. Xaolin was one of the founders of the Rocinha nucleus of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) in the late 1990s. Check out his Facebook profile.

See the candidates for federal congress below:

Anderson Quack, City of God – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)

“We are the sum of differences”

Anderson Quack is a filmmaker and social activist from City of God. He produced the film Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico (“Falcon – The Boys of Drug Trafficking”) and directed the documentary Remoção (“Eviction”) about the displacement of [residents of] South Zone favelas to housing complexes in the West Zone in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also co-founder of the Central Única de Favelas (CUFA), which aims to provide training for youth from favelas. He is a member of the aspiring party, Brazil Favela Front (FFB), but his candidacy was absorbed by the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) since the FFB was not officially registered in time for these elections. Check out the campaign on Facebook and Instagram.

Benedita da Silva, Chapéu Mangueira – Workers’ Party (PT)

“In constant struggle for the rights of the people’’

Benedita da Silva was born in Chapéu Mangueira in the South Zone of the city and lived there for 57 years. She began her political trajectory at the Federation of Favelas of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAFERJ). She graduated in social work at the age of 40. In 1982, she was elected the first female city councillor of the Workers’ Party (PT) and was the first black woman to occupy a seat in Rio’s City Council. To this day she is the only black woman to have been elected to the Brazilian Senate. She also became the first black woman to serve as governor in Brazil in an interim capacity when Anthony Garotinho resigned in order to run for president. During her brief administration, she implemented Brazil’s first university affirmative action law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). She also served as the Minister of Social Development during Lula’s administration. She fights for the rights of women, domestic workers, and favela residents, and for racial equality. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Bezerra, Asa Branca – Humanist Party of Solidarity (PHS)

“Community in the Capital”

Carlos Alberto Costa, known as Bezerra, was one of the first occupants of Asa Branca, a favela recognized for its high degree of liveability in the West Zone of the city. During his four-term tenure as president of the Residents’ Association from 1997-2017, residents built their own sewage system in the community, pressured city authorities to pave streets and entrances, and worked to promote community safety in an innovative and responsive way. Furthermore, the community welcomed immigrants and offered classes in languages, mathematics, theater, photography, and sports, in addition to countless other social projects. Since the end of his term, Bezerra has dedicated himself to the development of favelas in the Jacarepaguá region as a whole. Check out his Facebook profile.

Damião Braga, Quilombo of Pedra do Sal – Democratic Labor Party (PDT)

“For a more equal and more plural world”

Damião Braga is a quilombola leader fighting for the recognition of the Pedra do Sal Quilombo. He works in the Port Region of Rio and is a full member of the UNESCO-recognized Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site Management Council. He stood against the Guggenheim Museum at the Port and fights for the preservation of the history and culture of the Port Region, the largest slave port in human history. At an event organized by the UN, he explained that “the main difficulty for communities in urban areas is real estate speculation” and that “to improve this scenario…it’s necessary to end institutional racism…to speak of structural policies, not [just] affirmative actions.’’ Check out his Facebook profile.

David Miranda, Jacarezinho – Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)

“In defense of our history”

David Miranda is a journalist who was born and raised in Jacarezinho. At the age of thirteen, he left home and worked as a shoeshiner, car cleaner, cashier, and telemarketer. He was the first LGBTQ+ councillor elected to the Rio de Janeiro City Council, with the rights of this segment of the population being his primary front of action. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Mãe Flávia Pinto, Vila Vintém – Democratic Labor Party (PDT)

“Believing in women to change Rio’’

Flávia Pinto, born and raised in Vila Vintém in the West Zone of Rio, lost her father and mother while she was still a child; both parents were murdered—her mother a victim of femicide at the hands of her stepfather. She has been a priestess since she was 23 years old and graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC-Rio) at the age of 37 in sociology, thanks to a scholarship. She also decided to run for office after the incident with Marielle. She primarily fights to combat religious intolerance, improve gender equality, and prevent violence against women. Check out the campaign website and on Facebook.

Tia Norminha, Manguinhos – Brazilian Republican Party (PRB)

“For the rights of people with disabilities and their family members”

Norma Maria de Souza, known as Tia Norminha, is a psychopedagogue and resident of Manguinhos. She has a young child with cerebral palsy caused by a medical error during childbirth and has since fought for the rights of disabled people and their family members—specifically the right to specialized health care and special and inclusive education. She also fights for the empowerment of black women from favelas. She has pledged to seven citizen commitments of the Rio as a Whole Movement. Check out her Facebook profile.

Do you know other candidates from favelas who are not on this list? Send us an email: contact@rioonwatch.org

This is the sixth article in an ongoing series on the Brazilian electoral political scene in 2018.

*Updated on September 20