And so … Obama inspires and candidates in Brazil “borrow” his name
The candidate for the presidency of the United States Barack Obama enthused and inspired candidates for prefeito (mayor) and vereador (councilman) in Brazil, adopting his name in the municipal elections in October. There are candidates for mayor and councilman taking a ride on the fame of the US Democrat presidential nominee and decided to couple the name of Obama in their quest for success in the polls. No candidate in Brazil is using the name of John McCain.
The Brazilian law allows candidates to use nicknames during election campaigns and in their identifications. The adoption of the name “Barack Obama” is non-partisan and occurs in various regions of the country
The candidates said they appreciate the life story of the American and want to represent change in their municipalities, one of the banners of the real Obama campaign in the US presidential elections. They also said that the racial issue weighed in their decisions.
(photo above) “I am the first black candidate for mayor of my city,” said “Claudio Henrique Barack Obama” who disputes on a PTB-ticket (Labour Party of Brazil) a seat in the municipal council of Belford Roxo, in the federal state of Rio de Janeiro. Officially: Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, is a consultant in information technology and is optimistic. He said that he occupies the third place in polls and consequently has a chance to go to the second round. (In Brazil there is a multi-party system and a candidate needs to be elected by an absolute majority (50% and one vote), if candidates not reach this absolute majority in the first election day, there is a second election day (second round) 14 days later between the top two or three candidates only.
Jovelino Selis (Labour Party), a mathematics teacher at the city’s public college and a union leader, does not deny the reason for using the nickname of “Barack Obama” to compete for municipal councilman of Ubiratã in the federal state of Paraná. He didn’t have a choice. Not having the 20 thousand reais (12,000 USD), the opposition has, to activate a campaign, he decided to appeal to Obama’s popularity. “It was a marketing move. The idea caught. People are talking about you,” he observes.
Despite the satisfaction with the successful campaign, the candidate regrets the problems generated by the personal choice of his nickname. “They are calling my youngest son Obaminha (Little Obama),” he said, “ridiculing him in school.”
The Brazilian Obamas suffer the same prejudices as the real Barack Obama. Selis said that a few days ago he heard a rumour that he was using an Arabic name by now because of his links with terrorists. “They said that now I have links with the people in the Middle East. I have to do a teacher’s job to show that this is a lie.”
Alexandre Jacinto Nunes (centro-democrats), “Alexandre Barack Obama,” fears that the anti-American sentiments [rapidly expanded during the Busch/Cheney administration] are a backlash in his campaign for councilman in Petrolina, in the rural savannah like area in the federal state of Pernambuco. In some conversations with voters, Jacinto prefers to omit the nickname he chose for the campaign. Still, the salesman of air conditioners says he does not regret having adopted the name of the US presidential candidate.
Jacinto battles to achieve his dream. With few (financial) resources, he tries to convince the voters of Petrolina that he will improve the sanitation of the city and help revitalize the river San Francisco. “My difficulties are huge. I have to beg for shoes, as mine were only holes and I walk much. It is ugly,” he says. “I campaign on foot, by bicycle and motorcycle when someone is funding the fuel.”
For the full list: Meet the Brazilian “Obamas” click here
Meet the Brazilian “Obamas” (updated as from 01 Sept. 2008)
Claudio Henrique, (Labour Party of Brazil) candidate for mayor of Belford Roxo. Former parliamentary adviser to Minister Edson Santos (Secretary of Racial Equality) competes for the first time for public office.
David Cardoso, the Obama of Assentomento, competes for the second time for public office in Pompeu (Minas Gerais). He is candidate for city councillor for the Labour Party of Brazil. Is farmer, married, raised his own and other children, in total eight. He is 41 years and finished high school. Lives in a settlement with (just) 146 other families and did not know Barack Obama, till he got called by that name by others. He aims to fight for “the people who are suffering most.”
Fabio Alonso Jose de Melo, or Fabio Melo Barack Obama, is candidate for the municipal council in Marialva (Paraná). Compete for the PPS (Socialist Peoples Party). He is a law student at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Maringa, is 27 years and single. He adopted the nickname after seeing “the picture of the blessed on the Internet.”
Jovelino Sellis, candidate for councillor in Ubiratã, Paraná, for the PT (Labour Party). He is a mathematics teacher with the High school and College education network in the state of Paraná. He is married with four children, evangelical, and is said to be a fan of Obama.
Marlúcio Pereira runs in this election for mayor of Aparecida de Goiania (Goianas), a city of 500 thousand inhabitants. He won the nickname “Barack Obama of the Savannah”, but did not register the name with the Election Board. He is black, evangelical and admits to the media that if the US senator takes off favourably, he certainly will embark on the wave until the elections here in October.
Natalino Braz, who simply is registered as Obama, is candidate for the council of Mendes (Rio de Janeiro) for the third time. He is a DEM (democrat) who joined the coalition with the Partida Communista do Brasil. He is a construction worker, is 60 years old and did not finish preliminary school. He is married and adopted the nickname Obama “to see if he was lucky this time.”