SNN: Brazilians Vote
Somerville, Mass. – Thousands of Brazilians from across four New England states hit the polls at Somerville High School to vote for Brazil’s next president on Oct. 26.
More than 8,000 people came to the Highland Avenue location from as far away as Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and of course, from Somerville. Their votes helped narrowly reelect incumbent President Dilma Rousseff to another term.
Many voters said they have been living in the United States for over a decade but wanted to help create a better future for family members living back home in Brazil.
Liliane Sousa Paiva said she grew up in a small village in Minas Gerais but has lived in Somerville for the past 26 years.
“Our connection with Brazil is still very strong and we have family over there and we care about what’s going on there politically wise and economic wise,” Paiva told Somerville Neighborhood News (SNN).
Paiva added that politics is important for Brazilians in Brazil as well as here in the United States, especially since Brazilians are considered relatively new arrivals. She recently attended an event for one of the candidates for the Massachusetts gubernatorial elections.
“We are trying to be present and be participative in both Brazil and United States,” she said.
Concord, NH, resident Karen Carlimbanchi said she traveled to Somerville so she could vote for Rousseff, who she said provided clean water to many parts of Brazil and invested in education.
“I am here to vote because I believe in Brazil,” she said.
Brazil allows dual citizenship, and all residents have a legal obligation to vote, Brazilian Consulate member Mary de Melo told SNN. She co-organized the Somerville election for the Boston consulate’s jurisdiction of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, which has 18,161 eligible voters.
“Somerville is [an] important center for the Brazilian community here at New England,” Deputy Consul Ronaldo Rodegher added.
Of the eligible voters, 45.82% went to the polls, or around 8,300 Brazilians.
Even though voters abroad don’t decide the Brazilian elections, there is a sentimental importance for people to vote, Rodegher said.
“For the Brazilians who live here, it’s very important to come and feel that they belong and they have a relation with Brazil,” he said. “It’s a moment for them to come and keep their links with their mother country.”
De Melo said the polling location was stationed in Somerville during the 2002 and 2006 elections before moving to Framingham High School in 2010. She said Somerville was an attractive location because of its nearby subway and bus stations.
Outside the polls, 16-year-old Revere resident Fernanda Aiala said she was born in Boston but had lived Brazil for a few years. She came out to vote because much of her family is there and she cares about what goes in in the country.
“I’m doing my part to make Brazil a better country in general,” Aiala said.
Somerville resident Gleidson Sousa said he moved to the city from Rio de Janeiro 15 years ago.
“As a Brazilian, as a citizen, we’ve got the right to chose the right candidate. So if I have the right to vote I’m more than glad to do it,” he said. “Like every country, we have problems everywhere and I think we’ve got to chose the right president to represent our country.”