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How Brazil Is Using Youtube to Circumvent Electoral Laws

In the Brazilian democracy, presidential as well as lower office candidates have their ideas exposed to the voters, on radio and TV, courtesy of the state, which pays for the daily insertions. This is done through the so-called free electoral airtime.

For this year’s October 1st elections the electoral propaganda, which is aired twice a day in the morning and on prime time, has started August 15 and should run until September 28.

This propaganda game, however, seems to be playing as much on television sets as on the courts. No days goes by without some candidate appealing to the regional and federal electoral courts to ban one or another piece of advertising they consider offensive.

Most often than not the courts agree with the offended part and punish the offenders yanking out the sinning piece and sometimes using the suppressed time to give extra minutes to those who felt injured.

While not being shown on TV or radio, the excised propaganda is not vanishing in thin air. They have been showing more and more frequently at that global depository of video bloops, the Youtube. Out of the reach of the Brazilian courts these and other videos have given new life to what is called dirty campaign.

One of the most popular video snippets, which has already been used in past campaigns, shows Lula straightening the tie of Fernando Marroni, then a mayoral candidate to the southern city of Pelotas in Rio Grande do Sul.

Lula cracks an altogether politically incorrect joke, filled with prejudice, making fun of the place as a gay town. Says then presidential candidate Lula: "Pelotas is a pole city isn’t it? An exporter of faggots."

Youtube’s counter shows that the video – there are several copies of it – has already been seen more than 120,000 times. This 11-second exchange can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_2csPaWL4s

One of the videos vetoed by the TSE (Superior Electoral Court) simply puts side by side the accomplishments of the Cardoso administration and that of Lula through the Workers Party perspective. Among the claims: Lula created 4 million jobs in less than 4 years, while Cardoso created little more than 700,000 in 8 years. The while http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPCECzEJZU4
 
In another controversial video, this one, of  José Serra, in 2004, the then candidate to mayor of São Paulo – he went on to win the election – is asked by Record TV anchorman Boris Casoy if he would make the commitment of if elected mayor of São Paulo to not run for any elective post till the end of his mandate, which would end in 2008.

Casoy does a follow-up asking if he would tell the voters to not vote for him if he broke his promise. Serra’s answer: "I make such a commitment as I’ve already made although my opponents like to say that I will leave to be president, governor or etc…" Serra is running for São Paulo governor and voters don’t seem bothered by him breaking his commitment, since according to the polls, he will win in the first round.

The excerpt of the TV interview with Casoy’s question and Serra’s response can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtPFYAsv2l4 Once again there are several copies of this incident on Youtube.

In another video against Lula, singer/composer Ana Carolina appears reading a text by journalist/poet Elisa Lucinda, in which she fumes against the endemic Brazilian corruption. It’s a piece very critical of Lula, mentioning the mensalão, the monthly allowance the government paid congressmen so they would vote for the president’s bills. It also talks about the PT leader, José Adalberto, who was arrested in the airport with about US$ 200,000 in his underwear.
 
The text ends with this paragraph: "People might say: "It is no use, everyone here is corrupt, since the first man who came from Portugal". I will say: I don’t buy this, my hope springs eternal.  I repeat, have you heard? Eternal! I know we can’t change the beginning, but if we want, we will be able to change the ending." Check here Carolina’s reading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY5sSLxwk1Y

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