In 2023, the main novelty in the election for Guardianship Councils was the requirement to present a high school diploma as a prerequisite for running for office. An investigation by Brasil de Fato, however, shows inconsistencies in the supporting document presented by two candidates to be able to compete in the election.
Maria Auxiliadora Pereira, elected in Jaraguá, with 897 votes, and Manoelito da Silva Almeida, who had 1,550 votes and was elected in Grajaú. The report consulted the candidates’ school records at the Digital School Secretariat (SED) and confirmed that they did not complete high school. The information was also corroborated by the São Paulo State Department of Education, through the agency’s press office.
The requirement for a high school diploma when applying for guardianship councils occurred because the position requires, for example, the production of reports and spreadsheets. In the previous model, there were counselors who had difficulty carrying out this type of task, which compromised their work in defending the rights of children and adolescents.
This year, the city of São Paulo had 1,242 candidates to fill the 260 vacancies on the Guardianship Councils. Among them is a candidate from the east zone, who was not elected and who in the text will have the fictitious name of Ana Silva.
According to the defeated candidate, the practice may not have been isolated. “This is revolting, they took the vacancies away from people who prepared themselves and had a CV for the race, people with a history of services provided in their communities, it’s a shame.”
Accusations against Universal
Silva states that the fraud may have been used by other candidates and that, among the candidates who allegedly defrauded the high school graduation certificate, Maria Auxiliadora Pereira and Manoelito da Silva Almeida were linked to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
“These are people who attend church, do work there, and who were prepared to occupy this space. Their names are spoken and defended by pastors. From what we know, this practice of defrauding the diploma is ‘a practice of the church'”, denounces Silva.
Brasil de Fato contacted the Universal Church and informed them about the accusation. In response, the church stated that “regarding elections, it plays the role of guiding Christians to exercise citizenship, which is everyone’s duty and right” and that the accusation against the congregation would have “the real objective is motivated by religious prejudice or political activism – which is what we have seen in this election of guardianship councilors”. Read the full note here.
In the election for the Guardianship Council in São Paulo, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was the target of 70 complaints out of a total of 270 received by the Municipal Secretariat for Human Rights and Citizenship, organizer of the election.
Among the accusations was that of hiring private transport for voters to go to voting areas. On October 4 of this year, two days after the election of the guardianship councilors, Brasil de Fato released a video in which workers from Universal do Reino de Deus distribute electoral sheets with candidate numbers.
The two show the action of Universal do Reino de Deus workers in the units on Rua Antonella de Messina, in Tremembé, and Rua Benjamin Pereira, in Jaçanã, both in the north of the capital of São Paulo, guiding the faithful on where and who to vote for. The actions took place after the service.
For Ariel de Castro Alves, former national secretary for the Rights of Children and Adolescents and specialist in the Statute of Children and Adolescents (ECA), the candidates are unfit for the position.
“This lack of suitability makes the exercise of the function incompatible. If they forged a course certificate, they could falsify council documents, creating risks for children and adolescents. Furthermore, they will not have the capacity to write requests and representations”, explained Alves.
City Hall passes the ball to the MP
The City of São Paulo, through the Municipal Secretariat for Human Rights and Citizenship, informed that the administrative deadline for submitting a complaint expired on October 4th and that “it is up to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate complaints after the deadline established by the notice and This request can be forwarded by any interested party, if applicable.”
“In cases of complaints about document fraud, the Electoral Commission adopted the procedure of investigating and re-analyzing the registration documents presented. If the documentation was in agreement, the complaint was judged unfounded. It must be made clear that the Commission does not have the power to police or investigation, with this responsibility falling to the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, informed the City of São Paulo. Check out the full note.
If the complaint reaches the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the case will be investigated and the body may decide to challenge the election of the two candidates, which would be carried out via the Municipal Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents.
Brasil de Fato was unable to locate Maria Auxiliadora Pereira and Manoelito da Silva Almeida. The space is open for comments after the publication of the article. If they do, the text will be updated.
Editing: Thalita Pires