Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brazil: Presidential Hopeful Dies in Plane Crash

Eduardo Campos, a former Brazilian governor and candidate looking to unseat President Dilma Rousseff in October’s election, died today in a plane crash.

The plane Campos had been traveling in reportedly crashed in bad weather as it prepared to land in Sao Paulo state.  According to local authorities, all seven people aboard the Cessna 560XL aircraft passed away including Campos and “several campaign officials”.

“I was getting ready to open the school when I heard a loud noise of a jet approaching,” said eyewitness Vinicius Lopes.  “Then the plane hit the building.  It looked like a war scene.”

Donizete Maguila, Jr., another eyewitness who was returning back from work in the port city of Santos where the accident occurred, recalled when he found the corpse of Campos.

“I saw his clear eyes and tried to clean his face.  At the time I couldn’t believe…I saw the candidate,” he said.

The Recife-born Campos served as a federal legislator on three occasions and was the Science and Technology Minister under then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.  With the support of Lula, Campos won election as Governor of Pernambuco and held that post for two terms.  In his seven years as governor, Campos oversaw a drop in the rates of violence, improvements in education standards and pushing for major infrastructure projects.  Yet it was Pernambuco’s strong economic growth that has been his main political strong point against Rousseff who has been criticized for Brazil’s shaky economy.

Recent polls placed the centrist hopeful from the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) in a distant third place behind the leftist Rousseff and moderate conservative candidate Aecio Neves.  Yet Campos could’ve played a key role in a potential Rousseff-Neves runoff by providing an official endorsement and support to one of the two frontrunners. (Neves said he was “immensely saddened” by news of the crash while Rousseff announced that she would suspend campaigning for the next three days).

The PSB has ten days to name a candidate to replace Campos but odds are they will pick his running mate: environmentalist and defeated 2010 presidential candidate Marina Silva.  The alliance between the “business-friendly leftist” Campos and Silva, who is apparently not well liked by “Brazil's powerful agribusiness sector,” raised eyebrows among some political analysts.  Yet Campos mentioned in a 2013 interview that the pair shared some common ground:
Both Marina and I are also familiar with the reality of hunger. She comes from the north of Brazil and I come from the northeast, two of the poorest regions…
We know very well that it is fundamental to have the support of Brazilian agribusiness. And agribusiness knows that it is fundamental that we integrate these concepts and values which are represented by Senator Marina Silva, and which we also represent…
When I served in Lula’s government as minster of science and technology, I worked together with Marina to monitor deforestation, where Brazil had a great responsibility with regard to climate change. We began monitoring the Amazon with the help of satellites and other technologies. And we managed to reverse the devastation of forest areas.
Campos celebrated his 49th birthday last Sunday.  He died on the same day his grandfather, influential Pernambuco politician Miguel Arraes, passed away in 2005.

Campos is survived by his wife and five children.

Online Sources –; Folha do Sao Paulo; The Economist; Bloomberg; Reuters; ABC News

Video Source - YouTube user BRASILTV

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