BRAZIL: The Rhino Vote

  • Share
  • Read Later

Four years ago, when the voters of industrial Jaboatão 1,150 miles north of Rio, went to the polls to elect new municipal officers, they showed their disgust with the incumbent Red-lining regime by electing a goat named Fragrant to the city council. Last week São Paulo (pop. 3,650,000), Brazil's biggest city, was counting the votes after an election for city council, and once more the voters had turned to a four-legged friend. Top vote-getter (100,000) among 540 candidates for the 45-seat council: a five-year-old female rhinoceros named Cacareco (meaning rubbish), resident of the São Paulo zoo, whose only graft is 70 Ibs. of vegetables each day. Said one Paulista voter: "Better to elect a rhino than an ass."

Cacareco got on the ballot through the offices of some prankish students who printed 200,000 ballots. When the results were in, everyone had a theory about the landslide. A psychologist proclaimed: "The public chose Cacareco as an image of solidarity symbolizing the Sunday family outing to the zoo." Brazil's politicians knew better. Partly, it was pure orneriness. It was also an expression of anger at local officials, who have done nothing about the city's unpaved streets and open sewers. And since those officials were members of the coalition that elected President Juscelino Kubitschek, they also took the rap for Brazil's rising prices and the shortages of such basic commodities as beans and beef.