BRASILIA, Brazil — Everyone here is shocked after a plane crashed Wednesday off the coast of Sao Paulo, killing presidential candidate Eduardo Campos and six others.
At 49 years old, Campos leaves an impressive legacy as governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco and a former science and technology minister of Latin America’s largest nation.
He also leaves behind a wife and five children, including a baby born earlier this year.
Charismatic, with socially liberal yet business-friendly policies, Campos was polling in third place in the lead-up to the October elections. He may not have defeated Rousseff, who is forecast to win re-election. But many predicted he had a bright political future.
The others killed in the crash included the pilot, co-pilot, campaign aides and photographer Alexandre Severo, seen below in a photo on his Facebook page (and here’s a collection of his work).
GlobalPost asked Brazilians in the capital city Brasilia what they thought about the loss of Campos. They’re upset. They’re shocked. And although his plane apparently hit bad weather, some have bad suspicions of malevolence at play. But all are waiting to find out what happens next.
Waldemar Caetano, 59, owner of a beauty salon
What a sad thing. He gave a lot of hope to the Brazilian people. He emitted trustworthiness and honesty. This is rare in Brazilian politics.
As governor he seemed to really care about his state. And he was on his way up in politics. He seemed like he could have won [the presidency] in 2018, if not this year. I’m a Mineiro [from Minas Gerais state], so I feel an obligation to vote for Aecio Neves [the Brazilian Social Democracy Party’s presidential candidate], but Campos would have been my second choice.
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It was such a shock to hear about his death. Firstly, because he is so young, and because all accidents like this are a shock.
I think we will see Dilma benefit from this. So, maybe Neves should be careful, and stay in his house! No, I’m only joking. There is a lot of dirtiness in politics, but I don’t think it extends to murder. There were seven people who died, pilots, others, plus the risk of hurting people on the ground. I don’t think the PT [ruling Workers Party] would go this far. Still, anything’s possible!
Marina Falcao, 32, manager of a music school
As a candidate he was the least worst we had. I liked him. There’s no such thing as an ideal candidate, but he was our best option. Yesterday [Tuesday] he gave a good interview on TV. Today he probably woke up feeling pretty good, got dressed, put on a tie... and now he’s dead. It’s so strange. But this is a question of being human, not of being a politician or a leader. We should be thinking about his family, his history, not his politics. And, of course, about the others who died too — there were seven people on the flight. No one’s talking about them, and it gives the impression that he is more important, which of course he isn’t.
Maria, who prefers to stay anonymous, because she works in politics
I’ve followed politics in Brazil closely for many years. When a tragedy or some key fact in the country’s history happens, the reactions always surprise me. The jokes and the analysis prevail. But in this case no one remembers that together with Eduardo Campos, six other people died. Workers and ordinary Brazilians like any others. Why not remember them? The analyses of the impact on elections can come later. Now is the time to mourn.
A somber Marina Silva leaves after a press conference in Santos, southeastern Brazil, after the crash killed her running mate.
Andre Dutra, 28, public servant working for Federal District government, and former president of the youth division of the Brazilian Socialist Party, Campos’ party
This is a very sad moment. I'm in shock! Eduardo looked to the future and to the youth. He had a great government in Pernambuco, a poor state with many limitations. He really listened to the young people in his party. He was a man of dialogue, focus — a good leader. Like all people, he had his flaws. But he was the only candidate who represented me in these elections.
Campos represented the youth of Brazil. A new breath in politics. Young people interested in politics could look to him. Now it’s really hard because we have no options. Marina Silva [his vice presidential running mate photographed above] is good, but you can’t just replace Campos. He represented something else. The combination of the two worked well, but without him, we have a gap. Maybe he would have lost this campaign but it was his first. I saw a really good future for him.
I wasn’t close to him but I had some opportunities to talk to him briefly and hear him speak, he was really open, always smiling and really listened to people. It’s rare to see that in a leader.
It’s just so sad. He leaves five children, including a new baby, with Down syndrome. He seemed like a good father.
His death leaves a space that no one can occupy, in fact, not even Marina. Let's see what happens now. But what’s sure to lose is Brazil. It’s a shame.
Lucio Claudio da Souza, 49, runs a newsstand
When I heard that his death was confirmed, my immediate feeling was that this is a big loss for Brazil. Brazil has lost a lot. He had great potential. Campos seemed ethical. Frankly, simply to be a politician is to seem dishonest, untrustworthy... Unfortunately, politics in Brazil is like this. But he actually did seem ethical and trustworthy.
Williane Gomes, 22, nutritionist
I would have voted for him. Mainly because I didn’t want to vote for Dilma, as she’s had a chance, and I didn’t enjoy her presidency. I didn’t know much about his policies, but he seemed different, like a good person, a good father and a family man. It was just a tragic accident.
Edison Junior Alvarez, 20, works at a newsstand
I’ve heard people say they think it was some kind of sabotage, and I think they could be right. Dilma is looking weak, no one likes her, Campos was popular... I don’t know. It seems suspicious.
Alessandra Castro, 37, public relations officer
I’m just totally shocked. You never expect a death like this, never get used to hearing about them. I liked him a lot as a candidate. We’ve had the PT (Workers Party) in power for so long, and he offered something different. I would have voted for him, I think. I was waiting to have more time to find out more about him, now that’s not possible. He seemed like a different kind of politician.