On food, drugs, love, and politics: Brazilian elections and what I really want

Ana C!ara Otoni
6 min readOct 18, 2018


In scary times we all look for something to comfort us: food, alcohol, drugs, and love. We want to feel that we are being embraced, accepted. We want to know that no matter what, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.

When Anthony Bourdain visited Rome for Parts Unknown he said:

— I want to die here already, and I might yet.

During that shooting, he met the Italian artist and #MeeToo leader Asia Argento. A woman known for saying what she feels, regardless of what people might think. She introduced him to her world, her home, her children, her favorite restaurant. Tony fell in love. Together, they explored their vision about life, politics, and fascism.

Rome was the birthplace of fascism, the most extreme form of political abuse, founded by Benito Mussolini and others in 1919. Yep, almost 100 years ago! The Italian fascism inspired Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and made both countries allies in World War II.

Tony took Asia to the Palazzo dei Congressi for the first time. The enormous complex is not necessarily a must-see destination to Italians due to the memories that it sparks. Construction on the building started in 1938 with the intention of hosting a World Fair, a celebration of the beginning of the Fascist era. However, WWII broke before the project was finished and the Expo never took place.

Tony compared the building sovereignty to Lincoln Center, in NYC. Surprised, Asia questioned: “What are you trying to say? Is there a little fascist inside each one of you too?”.

Tony responded:

Hmm… Look, visit the States these days. It’s, uh..it’s coming back. It’s big.

Tony is not here anymore. And if in scary times comfort comes from food, alcohol, drugs, and love, I can only imagine that Tony was scared.

And to be honest with you, I’m scared too.

I’m scared because back where I’m from there’s a new wave of fascism rising. I’m scared because here where I’m there’s a new wave of fascism rising.

I’ve been disturbed about the future.

I’ve been encouraged by some friends to stop talking about politics.

I’ve been told to stay away from my country — to some people you lose the right to an opinion when you move out of your homeland.

I cannot stay away from politics.

For me, politics is about my daily life. It’s about the food I eat, the gas I put in my car, my right to come and go, my right to vote, and above all my right to express myself and have my voice heard.

Politics is important to me, but I never felt the need to be affiliated to a political party. There are many ways to be involved, being an active member of a party is one of them — an important one, but not something I chose to my life.

Back in college, I had a small participation in the student’s movement. My school was bought out by a massive corporation group. They had no experience in education and were treating the students as numbers. I had to get involved to defend my rights and demand respect. My future was at stake.

Together, we got some of our claims met. The fight was worthy.

Years later, I was enrolled in an entrepreneurial program in Silicon Valley, and again I saw myself in a debate about politics. This time the topic was: companies and education. Our instructor asked why it was so hard for companies to make money in the education industry? To which a dear friend from Chile responded:

— Because education shouldn’t be a business!

Wow! What an answer. His statement touched me in many ways. I went to a private school in Brazil with a full scholarship — thanks to a social program called ProUni (Programa Universidade Para Todos or University for Everyone Program), created around 2004/2005 by Fernando Haddad, back then Minister of Education, during the first administration of president Lula. The policy was created to guarantee the access of poor students and students coming from public schools. The government acquired spots in private universities and offered them free of charge. Since its creation, ProUni allowed 1,9 million students in Brazil to graduate, 70% of these students counted on a full scholarship.

The number of scholarship offered by year. Source: Sisprouni 2015 Prouni 2005–2º/2014.

I was raised by a single mother, who is also a teacher. Needless to say how much I value education. Education is the only path for our development, at all levels. Socially, politically, scientifically, spiritually.

In his beautiful “Man’s Searching For Meaning”, Viktor E. Frankl shares a tale where a man comes before the Nazi authority who has occupied his town. He shows his credentials to the guard: his university degrees, his letters of references, and so on. The Nazi asks the man: “Is that everything you have?”. The man nods. The guard throws it all in the trash and tells the man: “Good, now you have nothing”.

Frankl says that the man, whose self-esteem had always depended on the respect of others, is emotionally destroyed. But in the author’s perspective, “we are never left without nothing as long as we retain the freedom to choose how we will respond (sic)”.

For me, that’s exactly the kind of right I want to see guaranteed by all political systems: freedom.

On October 28th, Brazil is having the second term of the Presidential elections. The country is divided between two candidates: Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) and Fernando Haddad (PT).

For me, only one candidate represents education and freedom: Fernando Haddad. Jair Bolsonaro defends dictatorship, romanticizes slavery, promotes hate speech, sexism and homophobia. He defends fascism and torture.

Brazilian democracy is young. Our Constitution was approved in 1988, the year I was born. Our people have a lot to learn and grow. I’m hopeful that we would choose a candidate that can defend our freedom and be committed to our democracy.

One thing I know for fact, Brazil is more educated today then it was 14 years ago. I hope we have learned from our past, no one needs another dictatorship.

I trust Brazilians would negate any type of neofascism that might be rising in our beautiful country.

And if by any chance we go in the opposite way, I hope we would have the strength to be resilient and preserve our freedom at all matters. I wish we embrace each other with good food, alcohol, drugs, and love — especially love. In scary times, all we want is to be around the people who really matter to us. The ones who will say: it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.

Thanks for reading and See You Next Tuesday! ;-)

And to all strong, smart and sexy Brazilian gals a reminder: Become Odara daily! Força, mulherada! We are the change we want to see in our country and in the world.

If you want to support Brazil’s democracy, please sign this petition against Bolsonaro. Thank you!

Are you up to a healthy debate? Let’s connect! Tell me about your journey in the comments and/or follow me on Twitter: @anaclaraotoni.



Ana C!ara Otoni

Journalist. Sustainability, Social Justice & Gender Equality. Becoming Odara daily. Passionate about life, sexuality & wine. Mugs lover.