The last time I went to a rally was in
. Long 33 years ago. You don’t have to play it in the face. I was taken by my mother to see the then future ex-president Fernando Collor and also the great regional attraction of those elections, the candidate-cat Tony Garcia, for whom the women melted. Not my mother, of course. More respect, rapá!
Straightening my memory here, I dare say that at Collor’s rally there was a country duo. I mean Chitãozinho & Xororó, but I’m not sure. Patience. It’s going to be Chitãozinho & Xororó. And, just because the memory is deliciously imprecise and malleable under the forge of imagination, I will say that they sang “Woven Stove” and I, the sentimental idiot that I have always been, cried. Okay, the scene of an unlikely memoir is built.
Yesterday (31), after three decades, I saw the population again (called “people” when appropriate) gathered around a presidential candidate. In this case, the current president and candidate for reelection Jair Bolsonaro. Don’t pretend to be surprised. I’m sure you already deduced this from the title. Unlike the rallies of a time so remote that it is perhaps the case to call it “d’antanho”, there were no songs other than the jingles of Governor Ratinho Jr’s campaigns. (no relation to me) and Bolsonaro. Although then there was the National Anthem, which I hadn’t listened to completely since the civic Mondays at Madalena Sofia school.
“Speak the truth!”
I arrive in advance, to observe the movement. Which, an hour and a half before Bolsonaro’s arrival, is much more discreet than I imagined. Nearby, street vendors sell T-shirts with the slogan “God above all, Brazil above all” (R$45), towels with Bolsonaro’s face and mainly Brazilian flags. Many flags of Brazil. I, who don’t have and never had a Brazilian flag, even think about buying one and installing it in the window. Because of the World Cup, of course.
A few dozen meters ahead, more or less in the same place where I recorded the events described in the misunderstood chronicle “Fascist Crusades Against Communist Berimbauzeiros: What the Future (not) reserve us”, the first big difference between the rally of my childhood and the one today: people lined up submit to the magazine to enter a playpen. Bags and backpacks are emptied. Flagpoles are tossed into a garbage can. I wonder if all this concern for the president’s safety also extends to the surrounding buildings. I remember old (Kennedy) and recent (stabbing) political tragedies. Better let it go.
I have to walk around the block to get my badge and take my privileged place in the press corral. Suddenly, I hear shouts of “catch a thief!”. A young man appears running between the cars, shouting that he hadn’t robbed anyone, no. Some vigilant citizens try to hold or take the boy down, without success.
I settle in the journalists’ corral. In fact, the most perfect translation of the press that does not mix with the people. I intended to save this image for the end, but here it goes: at the end of the rally, a gentleman turned to the press playpen and, with his finger raised and his voice weak, almost a I whispered indignantly, looked right into my face and said: “Tell the truth!”. He kept repeating this a few times and I just stood there, nodding my head, not quite sure what to do. I just hope he is reading this chronicle.
Anthem, drones, myth
As soon as the announcer announces the arrival of Jair Bolsonaro, I run to get it make some blurry and useless images. I look around and everyone has their cell phones facing the president. “They contemplate reality through their cell phone screen”, I write in my notebook, giving up my very brief career as a cameraman and choosing to contemplate reality with those two tiny eyes that I have in the middle of my face and that need a visit to the ophthalmologist.
Bolsonaro arrives on a motorcycle, with Senate candidate Paulo Martins on the back. “They’ll complain that he’s not wearing a helmet”, I think. Around me, the population shouts “Myth! Myth! Myth!”. You might say it’s ridiculous, and you’re within your rights, but I couldn’t help but think that all those people around me put all hope for a better future in that man wearing a heavy bulletproof vest. Or at least a future free from Lulopetista communism.
(Before the arrival of the motorcycles, I had my eye on a fragile-looking little lady who, all dressed in yellow-green and holding a little flag, squeezed against the fence. What did the old lady think? And what did those who thought of the old lady think? Did they see her as a patriot or a fascist? Or are there nuances there that I’m not picking up?)
The president gets on the sound car and starts the show. First, there is a pastor who insists on emphasizing that we are a Christian people living in a secular State. Then the Senate candidate, Paulo Martins, speaks. But I can’t pay much attention to the words because I’m thinking about the revealing absence of fellow candidate Sergio Moro on that platform. Then Governor Mouse Jr. (no relation to me). And finally, the president. Who, before taking the microphone, made semi-desperate gestures for a supporter to collect a banner asking for military intervention. The banner has been removed.
I look at the blue sky of this last bit of winter. Half a dozen drones hover in the air. For some reason, I remember “Blade Runner: The Android Hunter”. But it’s quite possible that one thing has nothing to do with the other, because the last time I saw the movie I was still in college, learning to be a sullen journalist. The National Anthem begins to play. I look around. The journalists all… sulking. The people singing. Want to know something? I will sing the anthem. Better not. To sing or not to sing? Canto.
The act comes to an end. I leave the corral and make my way through the crowd. People are happy. Well, at least most of them, as you will see towards the end of this chronicle. I hear criticisms of electoral polls, but I don’t register in the notebook and now Inês is dead. I also hear cursing aimed at a certain STF minister whose name starts with “A” and ends with “lexandre de Moraes”. But I’m not crazy enough to reproduce such low slang words here.
On the corner of Rua XV and Dr. Muricy, a boy of his 17 years seems to be broadcasting a live in which he confronts supporters of the president. “Who do you think you are to talk about communism, you old woman ?” he asks a lady. Without hearing the answer, he shouts “Lula released and Bolsonaro in jail!” and strides out, laughing and entertaining his virtual audience.