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Brazil Journey Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Voting on São Paulo's isolated island
Aracruz: An 87 year-old Tupiniquim Indian leader says he can't write and won't vote Canudos: Paulo meets island-dwelling Marciano, who follows a 19th Century messianic leader Salvador: Traditional street vendors want a president who will give them a monopoly on bean fritters Pernambuco: A community descended from escaped slaves fights for access to its own land Eldorado dos Carajas: Where land reform has brought soaring crime Serra Pelada: Small-scale gold diggers win a 10-year mining rights battle Brasil Novo: A remote jungle town longs for electricity and a surfaced road Santarem: Canvassing votes by river boat at the heart of the Amazon jungle Belém: The city where a councillor with one arm is spearheading the fight for disability rights Belém-Brasilia highway: Two days with a trucker on Brazil's damaged and bandit-ridden roads Brasilia: The scavengers who live off the capital's waste Sao Paulo: The city 'island' dwellers who will have to travel for four hours to vote

Report 12: São Paulo

As Brazil gears up for presidential elections starting on 6 October, BBC Brasil's Paulo Cabral has completed a journey through remote mountains, arid countryside and deep jungle to find out what 21st Century politics mean in the Brazil that normally goes unreported.

Bororé Island is a district in the southern part of the city of São Paulo.

The ferry across the Billings reservoir to Bororé Island
Some people will have to travel two hours by bus and ferry to vote
Bororé is not quite an island, but 90% of it is surrounded by the waters of the Billings Reservoir.

One precarious, barely used road is the only access by land.

Two ferries link the district to the cities of São Paulo and São Bernardo do Campo.

Not a single ballot box for the island's 3,000 or so residents will cross the waters.

The president of the Association of Residents of Bororé, Eduardo Freire, says that the community has requested its own polling station at the local school numerous times.

Shopkeeper Augusto Silva
Augusto Silva: "I don't have great faith in politics"
"The election interests people because of the politics, but the fact that they have to take a ferry followed by a bus to get to a voting booth is a great dampener on their enthusiasm," said Mr Freire.

"If voting was not compulsory, I am certain that a lot of people would not go to all that trouble just to vote."

Local resident Augusto Silva will face a two-hour journey to get to the polls in Capão Bonito in São Paulo.

"Just to get there, vote and then come home, will take me all day. The journey alone will take me four hours," he said.

And he held out little hope for the impact of his vote: "I don't have great faith in politics, I really don't," he said.

Eduardo Freire points to a map of Bororé Island
The 'island' is 90% surrounded by water
Shopkeeper Anisia Silva will also have to travel a long way.

She believes that voters "have a duty to vote, to choose the candidate who best responds to their hopes and who can make a difference for the better".

Ms Silva has lived on the island of Bororé for the last 18 years but she has never bothered to transfer her voting registration to Grajaú, which is a lot closer.

"I have to catch the ferry either way," she said.


The district of Bororé is a peninsula.

Buses do not use the road route to it, which crosses marshlands and areas of forest to link the island with the rest of the city.

Bororé Island street
The residents have now had some roads surfaced
Instead, the buses travel on ferries run by Emae, a part of São Paulo's electrical company which has not been privatised.

Emae inherited this obligation 20 years ago from the former state company, Light, when the dam was built and the area flooded.

The newly isolated areas had to be guaranteed ferry services provided by the state.

Presidential election
First round: 6 October
Run-off: 27 October
Key candidates
Jose Serra - ruling centrist coalition
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - Workers' Party
Ciro Gomes - centre-left Labour Front coalition
Anthony Garotinho - Socialist Party candidate
But, even in one of the biggest cities of South America, isolation remains a problem.

Mr Freire explained that, for example, political campaigning is still a novelty in Bororé.

"Until 1994 the candidates did not come here and there were no campaign posters or leaflets in the streets," he recalled.

This year, the Association of Residents, has secured new benefits for the community, such as road surfacing, rubbish collection and a post office.

Eduardo Freire
Eduardo Freire: Travelling to vote 'dampens election enthusiasm'
"And now the interesting thing is that the candidates are claiming these improvements as their own - improvements that the community won without any help from political parties," said Mr Freire.

He believes that the effort of bringing the elections into Bororé could help increase the community's interest in politics.

"We need public help to develop the district," he said.

Key stories





See also:

20 Aug 02 | Americas
19 Jul 02 | Americas
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