Thursday, August 05, 2004

Testing the test

So a mayoral candidate is protesting the literacy test, which he claims is 'humiliating'? Good. Manoelito Argolo, the current mayor of Entre Rios, Bahia, is protesting having to do the test. It's something all prospective candidates have to do if they want to be able to stand.

In fact it's Brazil at it's most insidious. The history of the country is riven with examples of Brazil's elite perpetuating its position in society. In the past entitlement to vote was contingent on property (just as it was at one time in Europe and North America). But when universal suffrage came around, Brazil's elite got around the problem of allowing the masses to vote by demanding that all candidates demonstrate their literacy (which in a country like Brazil with limited public services means going to school, a privilege not granted to everyone).

Manoelito's campaign is not an isolated one. According to the same article in the Folha, another town in Bahia has already excluded five candidates standing for council for having failed the test, while another six towns in the same state have prevented four others each.

And so Brazil's cycle of social exclusion continues.

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