Day 8: Sad researcher is sad
What that picture doesn't show is how empty that committee room was. On that day, there was also what we call a "solemn session", that is, a plenary session of symbolic value, where no vote is taken, usually as an hommage to someone. This particular session was to give out the Carlota Pereira de Queirós award, named after the first woman to be a federal deputy, to women who shaped politics this year. Marielle Franco was honored posthumously, along with Alzira Soriano (also posthumously, she was the first woman to hold an elected office in Brazil), Mônica Spada, Renata Gil de Alcântara, and Ana Cristina Blasi. At the same time, a session of the special committee on Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes's murders was called.
It's no wonder the committee room was empty (although, even without the "competing" events it would probably have had the same problem). On the other hand, the civil servants (for lack of a better term) who work for the Women's Caucus were present. These are the people who research that information anyway, bring it to the deputies' attention, and possibly suggest legislative action. I spent some time speaking with a diplomat from the Belgium embassy, despite her tentative Portuguese and my almost complete lack of French - she was shocked at the delay, but everything in the Chamber will start with at least 30 minutes past the designated time.
I had hoped to conduct an interview on Thursday. The plan was to ride to the airport with the deputy and conduct the interview in the car. Alas, it was cancelled. So, I went back to Annex IV to see if any of the other deputies were there or available, since the solemn session was finished. One chief of staff looked at me in despair and went "I forgot about you! She was here, available, all morning!". There were tears. On the inside. It turns out, I could have walked into the solemn session. Damn. I connected with another via message; she said the deputy had a party meeting the next day and I could wait for her at the place where the meeting was supposed to happen. Since both deputies are in the same party, I went back to the first office and asked if I could do the same. Success!
I had lunch at the Annex's restaurant and because of lack of seating, a woman sat at my table. She works for a party, writing bills for deputies. So, we have: legislative consultants, party consultants, and the Women's Caucus civil servants, who also assist the representatives who are men and want to propose something in women's interest. That's a lot of help.
I was sad to have missed out on my interview. Sad to have lost an opportunity. Sad after seeing Marielle Franco's mother speak, and her father sit silently. Brazil lost a great woman, executed for her work with human rights, for being black, for being a woman, for being bisexual, for being a leader.
I also had a splitting headache (one day I'll write about being an academic with chronic pain) and nothing else to do there, so I went home to plan for my last day.