ReportageEldorado. This is the name of the small town, southwest of São Paulo, where the Brazilian president spent his youth in the 1970s. A forgotten “valley of misery” where the future soldier made the 400 strokes by inventing a legendary course. However, in October, during the presidential election, it is Lula who could easily be the winner in this conservative city… as in the rest of Brazil.
Narcisa dos Santos remembers as if it were yesterday this little too big kid, with the marked bangs and the eyes of an intense blue. As children, they sometimes played queimada, the Brazilian equivalent of dodgeball, in the main square of the small town of Eldorado, 250 kilometers southwest of the megalopolis São Paulo. “He had such white skin ! We were making fun of him. We nicknamed him “Palmito” [cœur de palmier] »laughs this 67-year-old woman, dark skinned, curly hair cut short, looking constantly amused.
One day “Palmito” decides to reply. ” Hey ! you, fat one ! », throws the kid to Narcisa, who sees red: “ I wanted to kill him. I took a branch off a hedge and hit him real hard ! » Duly punished, the rascal scurries off to the laughter of the other children. “ He said, “You may have a good laugh, but one day you’re gonna see what you’re gonna see. ! I will be president of Brazil and I will take my revenge!” », she says. Who would have thought that one day little Jair Bolsonaro would achieve his ends?
The Clan Stronghold
Five decades have passed. “Palmito” became president of Brazil. Narcisa no longer thinks of hitting him, ” on the contrary “. On the screen of her pink-hulled smartphone, a photo shows her in the arms of Jair Bolsonaro, who is making a heart with his fingers. “Childhood Friend” favorite of the Head of State would not miss one of his visits to Eldorado for anything in the world. “I tell him: ‘Flee the protocol ! Come and have a coffee and a rice couscous [une spécialité locale] at home.” »
Bolsonaro visits Eldorado about twice a year. And for good reason: he is a “son of the land” who spent most of his youth here. Eight years in all, from 1966 to 1973, between his 11 years and his 18 years. Those of adolescence, where his personality and his future political convictions were forged. A large part of the Head of State’s family still resides in the region. Eldorado is simultaneously the bastion of the clan, the place of childhood memories and the melting pot of the current president of Brazil. Where it all began. And where will it all end? In October 2022 the presidential election will take place. The far-right outgoing is largely a loser against his rival, former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in Brazil as in Eldorado.
Eldorado now has 17,000 inhabitants. Installed on a loop of the rio Ribeira de Iguape (known as “rio Ribeira”), the city is located in the heart of the “Paulista Amazonia”: a verdant and mountainous territory, full of caves and primary vegetation in the Mata Atlântica, a tropical rainforest. The jungle covers 70% of its territory. It is said to be inhabited by jaguars and other mysterious creatures. Better not to risk it.
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