Bulgaria: Reactions to Dilma Rousseff's Victory in Brazil

Front page of the Nov. 1 issue of the Bulgarian newspaper '24 Hours': ”BG enthusiasm on the 140 days of battle for President of Brazil.”

Brazil's President-elect Dilma Rousseff has been the subject of many conversations in Bulgaria, due to her Bulgarian roots.

False Flag, a Bulgarian blog about international politics, wrote this [BG]:

For some time now in Bulgaria there's been a show of interest in the presidential elections in Brazil. This sudden expansion in the interests of Bulgarian society is due to the fact that the main candidate for the post is half Bulgarian.

Dilma Rousseff's father is a Bulgarian emigrant – Peter Roussev. Among other things, he was an active member in the Bulgarian Communist Party during the 20's, a period marked by [the bombing of the St. Nedelya church]. In the late twenties, he ran from political persecution and fled to France and later to Latin America, until he settled in Brazil.

Here is a comment from one of the readers of False Flag:

What joy, what a miracle, big deal… I'm sick of hearing about this guerrilla. If anything, she represents the “export of revolution” we've made, according to the guidelines of Comrade Lenin.

24 Hours, one of the biggest Bulgarian newspapers, published an interview with Rousseff [BG]:

678 days or 1 year, 10 months and 7 days. Much time has passed between November 17, 2008 – the moment when the daily newspaper “24 Hours” requested an interview with Dilma Rousseff, and the day it finally took place – September 24, 2010. In this time several dozen calls were made to Rousseff's ministry, to her party, and finally – to her election headquarters.

- Ms. Rousseff, what are your feelings towards Bulgaria, the homeland of your father?

- They're feelings of tenderness and love. And I would say that to some extent I regard myself as a Bulgarian, although I've never visited my father's homeland. Unfortunately I never saw my brother Luben, who died two years ago. I know you've met him and written about him, for which I'm extremely grateful to you. My father died when I was only 15 years old, so I didn't manage to learn Bulgarian through him. I once knew a couple of words in Bulgarian, but I've since forgotten them.

- Should we be expecting you in Bulgaria?

- No doubt, I will come to visit.

- As the president of Brazil?

- God willing.

Allow me to give you a letter and a small gift from your first cousin Tsanka Kamenova, who lives in Sofia, as well as greetings from another first cousin – Nadezhda Hristova, who lives in Canada. They wish you success in the elections.

- I thank them wholeheartedly. My relatives in Bulgaria should be expecting me soon. I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when I will finally meet them.

Eli, the author of a Bulgarian blog called Razmishlyotini, wrote [BG]:

From a feminist point of view, Rousseff is a phenomenon not only because she's the first woman elected president of Brazil. There are many similar examples – Mireya Moskoso in Panama, Violeta Chamorro in Nicaragua, Michelle Bachelet in Chile and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina. But they've all risen through the ranks with the help of a male relative in politics – either a husband, a father… Rousseff is perhaps the first to have made it without such assistance. Despite being twice divorced, with one daughter, at the beginning of her campaign and her treatment for cancer, she had to spend some effort on cosmetics and appearance. Let's not forget that we're talking about Brazil, a country where the “beauty tax” is one of the most important factors for social acceptance of a woman regardless of her profession.

Dilma Rousseff's presidential campaign was aimed at improving the country's infrastructure and education – something the U.S. should pay close attention to.

Another Bulgarian blogger, Vessela, wrote this on her blog [BG]:

I don't get this euphoria on every TV channel that Dilma Rousseff would become president of Brazil. That's fine, she has Bulgarian roots. Sarkozy has Hungarian roots, I don't remember such a media frenzy in Hungary during his campaign.

Several online media outlets wrote about Gabrovo, a Bulgarian town known as “an international capital of humor and satire” – and the hometown of Rousseff's father.

Bulgarian news agency Darik wrote this [BG]:

The Municipality of Gabrovo sent a congratulatory note to the new President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. It wishes her success and expresses confidence in her successful term as President.

“We believe that Brazilian passion, mixed with the defiant Bulgarian spirit and Gabrovo entrepreneurship, will surely lead to the successful governance of one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” Gabrovo wrote.

Newspaper 24 hours published this interesting story on its website [BG]:

An exhibition entitled “Gabrovo Roots of the Brazilian Presidential Candidate Dilma Rousseff” opened yesterday at the Historical Museum in Gabrovo. Thirty-five archive photographs and two genealogical charts prove her local roots. Krassimira Cholakova from the Museum of History explains how it all began when two prominent Gabrovo families were joined. Stefan Roussev from the Rousschushky family married Tsana Kornazheva from the Doskov family. Peter Roussev, one of five children, left Bulgaria in 1929 and settled later in Brazil, where he became known as Pedro Rousseff.

The two families are intertwined with members of other prominent Gabrovo families, including that of the first mayor after the National Liberation – Tsonyu Michkovets, Nikola Rasheev, the man who started the first linen-hemp factory in the country, and Peter Peshev – a Minister in several of the first Bulgarian governments after 1878. Many of Dilma's relatives were members of the Narodniak and Social-Democratic parties. However, there aren't any historical documents that state Peter Roussev was a member of a political party. It's possible that he wasn't repressed for his political beliefs, but rather emigrated to France and then to Brazil for economic reasons.

There is a Bulgarian Facebook fan page about Rousseff – “Дилма Русеф-Президент на Бразилия” (Dilma Rousseff-President of Brazil).

On my own Facebook page, I have asked my friends to share their thoughts about Rousseff [BG], and here are some of the responses:

Gergana Vlaykova: Yes, I also believe that she doesn't really care that much. Aside from that, as a source of some pride, or just as a pleasant fact. I'm personally annoyed by the reactions of her relatives. I'm convinced that if they found out about her while she was in prison (for which we are not sure), they would have been ashamed of her and wouldn't care if she was fairly accused, or whether she needed something. Now that she's President, it's a great deal of joy for the “family” …

Vesela Georgieva: I don't understand why the whole situation is being inflated out of proportion when the woman considers herself a Brazilian. To expect that Saint Dilma will appear in a bright halo and help us fix some of our messes, is just not serious.

Maxim Prodanov: Looking at the international scene, I'm glad that Brazil continues to pull farther and farther away from its dark past of dictatorship and inequality, and elects spirited, socially conscious leaders. I'm glad to see poverty drop in a region that desperately needs and deserves better living standards. Looking at the domestic Bulgarian scene, I can't help but cringe at my fellow Bulgarians’ attempt to find pride in any successful person with a trace of Bulgarian blood. Nationality means nothing, it's just an artificial division. Whether Dilma Rousseff turns out to be brilliant or not, it would be her own achievement, not ours.


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