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Day 3: Prep-week and interview week

Parliamentarians for Social Movements Act; (left to right) Maria do Rosário, Jandira Feghali, Guilherme Boulos, Benedita da Silva
Parliamentarians for Social Movements Act; (left to right) Maria do Rosário, Jandira Feghali, Guilherme Boulos, Benedita da Silva

Day 3 is a Wednesday and that's where all the parlamentarians are really in the Chamber getting things done. The fact that I scheduled most of my interviews on that day is evidence of that. The day was also evidence of what a crappy photographer I am, cause that was the best picture I took all day.

There were committees scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Lucky for me, the Defence of Women's Rights Committee was only at 11 a.m. Of course, the Mines and Energy Committee (white men as far as the eye could see) ran late and the committee I was waiting for was moved to another room and it took me forever to find out. But while sitting there waiting (anyone can sit in a committee chair as long as there are no deputies needing a seat), a woman in her 50s sat next to me and while looking for an outlet to plug her phone start to moan about starting over at her age. Her congressman, her "boss", wasn't reelected. Oof.

Mines and Energy Committee - any women pictured are not deputies as there are no women who are permanent members in this committee

I finally found the the Defence of Women's Rights Committee across the hallway and the legislative consultant I was looking for. None of the deputies I wanted to speak to were there. The meeting was uneventful, apart from a financial dispute between this Committee and a Mixed Comittee between the Chamber and the Senate as to who would pay for an event on the effects of shared custody. About four deputies were present, although others had been there to form a quorum, as I mentioned on Day 2.

In Brazil, the scheduling of all parliamentarians is done by their staff, usually, their chief of staff (unlike Sweden, which is done by the representatives themselves). During the afternoon, I went to the Human Rights Committee and managed to speak to the staff of one parlamentarian. They took my phone number down, which is unsual. If the chief of staff route doesn't work, than you go to the parlamentarian. Wait for a moment when they are alone. That's rare. Tell them quickly what you need. They'll either wave to staff member or tell you to speak to their staff and say you have their OK. Currently, some right-wing representatives are attempting to rewrite a law and make social movements de facto terrorists. On Wednesday night, several deputies and two former presidential candidates, Guilherme Boulos and Fernando Haddad, were present to protest that attempt. And I got to speak to two more parlamentarians.

More and more, not just here, but UK and Sweden as well, I feel like two weeks in location is the bare minimum. One week of prep, lay of the land, making contacts and making yourself available, and the second week for the actual interviews. Here, because it's so free to walk around, is a definite must.

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