Home > Uncategorized > It’s a small world: Politics, strange bedfellows and a three-legged dog

It’s a small world: Politics, strange bedfellows and a three-legged dog

Curitibanos display their political affiliations before the October presidential elections. The red shirts are supporters of incumbent Dilma Rousseff and just behind them are the white tentsand banners of Aécio  Neves' fans.

Curitibanos display their political affiliations before the October presidential elections in Brasil. The red shirts are supporters of incumbent Dilma Rousseff and just behind them are the white tents and banners of Aécio Neves’ fans.

The U.S. off-season elections came and went uneventfully, at least if you won.

No so in other countries, especially South America where elections and unrest go hand-in-hand. Watching the elections in Brasil, one get struck at the similarities in fervor between the U.S. and Brasil, although I don’t remember seeing in the U.S. fans of one party (in this case incumbent Dilma Rousseff) yell obscenities and throw objects out the windows of high rises at the supporters of challengers (and eventual runner-up) Aécio Neves.

It was a frequent occurrence in Curitiba, particularly in the chi-chi bairro of Bigorrilho, where supporters of Rousseff and her center-left Workers’ Party envision themselves as freedom fighters, conveniently forgetting their maids often ride two hours on the bus to clean kitchens and toilets.

It’s sad to see Uruguay president José Mujica step down. Despite the widespread corruption and bigotry in other countries’ politics (see Andrew Downy’s account here of politics in Brasil or Mexico and the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students) Mujica, a former revolutionary who still professes anarchist ideals, lives in a tiny house rather than the presidential palace and gives away 90% of his salary, once telling Al Jazeera that “I make more than I need.”.

He’s said to be the world’s “poorest president”, regularly appears in public driving a 1987 Volkswagen bug, legalized marijuana and gay marriage, and says too much attention is paid to his his simple lifestyle.

But Uruguayan presidents are term-limited, so now the country is preparing for president-elect Tabaré Vazquez, who was president from 2005-2010. He’s expected to continue Mujica’s policies, but we’ll miss the rumpled, politically adept Mujica, the well-worn VW and his three-legged dog named Manuela.

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