Election Loss of pro-Harm Reduction Mayor in São Paulo

Mayor Marta Suplicy (of the Workers Party, or PT in its Portuguese initials) lost the elections in São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil with 11 million inhabitants, even as her government finished the term with the highest approval ratings in the history of the city. Based in social priorities, her government was built for the poor people in the peripheral regions of the city and emphasized public education and public transportation.

In the health sector Marta did a lot, but considering the debit of many years without priorities in health, that is the main problem in the City still.

The campaign of her adversary was based in the prejudice against a courageous female that has a very coherent way of life, including the decision to divorce the most popular Senator of Brazil (Eduardo Suplicy) at the beginning of her term, and to marry someone who she was in love with. All the big media in the country worked hard to improve the prejudice against her and to support her adversary.

Jose Serra, the former Minister of Health of Fernando Henrique Cardoso Government (PSDB – Social Democratic Party), won the election last Sunday. Serra is suitable for the fight against AIDS but is very conservative in fields like drugs and the Harm Reduction approach, or themes like gender or sexual orientation issues. Marta Suplicy's government was a species of bunker of the libertarians in Brazil: she supported and participated in all four Gay Parades in the four years of her administration (for instance: the Gay Parade in the City of São Paulo in 2004 had one-and-a-half-million participants and is for far the biggest one in Brazil); she was extremely supportive of Harm Reduction programs including with the decision by her government to co-sponsor (as the main funder) the Latin American and Caribbean Harm Reduction Conference and she was personally at the opening ceremony; she also was extremely committed with the gender questions and expanded, for example, legal abortion in public hospitals of the municipality, among other revolutionary decisions to work with and for the transgendered; homeless; and other socially excluded communities.

I had the honor and the privilege to work in her government and I’m sure that she will stay on track as one of the most advanced politicians in Latin America. As almost half of the population of São Paulo I’m still crying for the loss, but ready for future fights for a better world.

Fábio Mesquita, MD, PhD
City of Sao Paulo Public Health Department

About Fabio Mesquita

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About Fabio Mesquita