Walk into a polling station in Belford Roxo, an impoverished city on the fringes of Rio de Janiero, on October 5 and you will be faced with an historic choice. You could vote for Alcides Rolim, the Workers’ Party mayoral candidate promising a “city for all” or Elizeu Pitorra, a local communist who believes it is “time for a change.” Most voters, however, will probably opt for Barack Obama, a 39-year-old Brazilian who, until recently, was known as Claudio Henrique dos Anjos.
Welcome to Obama-mania, Brazil-style. Few countries have embraced the idea of the US’s first black president as enthusiastically as Brazil, a country with one of the largest Afro-descendant populations on Earth yet where black faces remain a minority in politics. Obama T-shirts are everywhere while chat shows and newspaper columns are filled with talk of the 47-year-old Illinois senator.
Now even Brazil’s politicians are lining up for their piece of the pie. Due to a quirk of Brazilian law, candidates are allowed to run under the name of their choice. As a result, at least six Brazilian politicians have officially renamed themselves “Barack Obama” in a bid to get an edge over their rivals in October’s municipal elections. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008
6 months ago