Fri, Dec 03, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Brazilian clown to serve in Congress after reading test

AP, SAO PAULO

The congressman-elect may be a clown, but at least he can read and write.

The man who won more votes than any other candidate for Brazil’s lower house has been cleared to take his seat because a judge has ruled he can read and write well enough to act as a congressman.

Judge Aloisio Silveira ruled on Wednesday that Francisco Silva did not lie when he signed a document swearing that he is literate.

Silva, who became famous as the clown Tiririca — “Grumpy” in Portuguese — received about 1.3 million votes in elections in October.

However, critics suggested he was illiterate and Silveira ruled there were discrepancies between the handwriting on Silva’s application to run for Congress, on the document in which he swears he can read and write and in autographs he gave to fans.

Silveira ordered Silva to take a test in court proving he is literate and the judge said on his sentence that the clown passed, “despite difficulties in writing.”

Silva has attributed the discrepancies in his handwriting to the fact that his wife helped him fill out the congressional application because he has trouble holding a pen firmly between his thumb and index finger.

The judge said it doesn’t matter who filled the application as long as Silva showed a minimum capacity to read and write.

A constitutional mandate requires that federal lawmakers be literate, but the judge said it rules out only those who are “totally illiterate.”

Silva’s campaign videos drew millions of viewers on the Internet, with slogans such as “It can’t get any worse” and “What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don’t know. But vote for me and you’ll find out.”

He belongs to the Party of the Republic, which is allied with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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