Politicians Trade Sterilizations for Votes
SALVADOR, Brazil — Claudia Barboza Santos did not share the politics of Mauricio Trinidade, the man who was able to help her. But she turned to him anyway. She was 29, unemployed, broke and the mother of one child. She did not want to have a second child.
Trinidade, a local councilman, was running for the Bahia state legislature. He wanted her vote. So they made a deal five years ago, and each got what they wanted: Trinidade arranged a sterilization procedure for Santos, and she voted for him.
“I didn’t have a job, I was living with my parents and I knew it would be a big burden to have any more children,” said Santos, who is now 34 and makes her living selling bootleg CDs. “My friends had all gone to” Trinidade for “help with their surgery, so when I decided it was time, I knew who to see. . . . All he wants is your vote.”
Santos lives in the municipality of Pernambues in an area of redbrick hovels, junked cars and soft, sloping earth. Trinidade promises mostly poor, black women — who are both old enough to cast a ballot and bear children — free tubal ligations, a surgical procedure that renders them infertile.
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