The serene personality and conciliatory profile of André Ceciliano, 56, seemed to make the state deputy for the PT a competitive candidate for the Senate in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Given the ability he has shown in making deals with politicians of all ideological hues as president of the state’s Legislative Assembly, Ceciliano was selected by Lula to try to defeat Romário and take one of the three seats that the party holds in the house from the hands of the PL. The plan, however, collided with the insistence of deputy Alessandro Molon (PSB) in running for the same position, despite the alliance made with the PT around the candidacy of Marcelo Freixo for the state government. The stalemate split the left and produced attacks from both sides. Even Ceciliano’s main quality, that of a skilful political articulator, a characteristic inherited from his merchant father, has become a defect in the mouths of his detractors, who accuse him of playing the opponent’s game. In this exclusive interview with VEJA given in the office of the Alerj presidency, Ceciliano accuses Molon of acting out of vanity and says that he does not have the sympathy of part of his political field because he is still unknown.
Alessandro Molon, his opponent in the PSB’s Senate race, refused to give up his candidacy despite the agreement that the party maintains with the PT at the national level. In an interview with VEJA, he claimed that this issue was never on the table. What do you have to say about it? Molon tells half-truths. In fact, there was no agreement with the PT in Rio regarding the candidacy for the Senate, but the president of the PSB, Carlos Siqueira, was in the state and said that this issue would be resolved with the local leaders of the two parties. In addition, the press reported that the candidate for state government by the PSB, Marcelo Freixo, met with Molon and the two agreed that if the party launched a candidate for the government, the seat to the senate could be negotiated. I want to make it clear that this is a compromise between the two. It’s not up to me to comment. It so happens that my party made a national agreement, in which it was agreed that the seat in the senate would belong to the PT. Several PSB leaders, such as the mayor of Recife, João Campos, the candidate for governor of Pernambuco, Danilo Cabral, and the former governor of Maranhão, Flávio Dino, recognized this.
But did the national agreement go through the candidacy for the Senate in Rio or not? On the eve of the announcement of the national agreement in February, former president Lula and the national president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, met with me and some local leaders to inform them that we were going to close a national alliance and that the senate seat would fall to we. That was right. Molon is victimizing himself, but to me he’s just another candidate. Let’s look ahead, campaign.
But there is considerable impact in splitting the left in an electoral process, no? Then there is the responsibility for the future of those who will answer for this. I received the mission to go to the Senate directly from former President Lula. For me, that’s enough.
How was that conversation? Lula was with me in June of last year. He stayed at my house for two days. We talked a lot because there was a big movement by the PT in Rio to launch me in the state government. I even received support from the mayor of the capital, Eduardo Paes (PSD). But I always said that the fundamental, above anything else, was the election of Lula to the presidency and the former president clearly said that he would rather have a single candidate for the Senate than two for the government. Strategically, it is important for him to have support in the National Congress, in case he is elected.
How would you rate Molon’s insistence on maintaining the candidacy? It is a stance that jeopardizes a national project and, ultimately, democracy itself. You cannot weaken an alliance for the sake of vanity. In my electoral program, Lula has always been present. In Molon’s he doesn’t appear. I wonder why?
It is reasonable to assume that you would have a lot of votes for federal deputy and could even help the PT build a large bench in the Chamber. Wouldn’t it be a safer and even quite strategic alternative? President Lula entrusted me with a task to change the current situation of having three senators from Rio de Janeiro in the hands of the PL. We need to defend the state that we don’t have in the Senate.
You come from the Baixada Fluminense and have encountered a lot of resistance in the south of Rio, in the strongholds of Freixo and Molon. Why does this occur? By ignorance. I can name more than thirty laws that I made to change people’s lives, among them the one that reduces the ICMS on the electricity bill of the poorest communities and the one that created the gas voucher in the state. This public is not aware of these initiatives.
Another label that this public has placed on you is that of “the child of Jorge Picciani”, former president of Alerj, who was arrested, accused of corruption. Proceed? No way. The composition of the board of directors of the house is the result of a party composition. It doesn’t obey the logic of being the offspring of A, B or C. You need to have a vote to get elected and, for that, you make room. When the president was removed, I was second vice. The first, the late Wagner Montes, asked for a waiver every 30 days because he didn’t want to be an expense advisor. I was the interim of the interim. I was never close to Picciani. It’s the same thing as calling me a militiaman. If it was, in fact, those people connected to Molon wouldn’t even have the courage to put such a blasphemy on me.
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Is it friendly fire? This fire is not a friend, is it? This fire is envy because we talk to all political spectrums. I can’t overshadow my candidacy with this lie.
In the presidency of Alerj, did you embrace the agenda of the governor who today supports Bolsonaro at the national level? Castro never had an agenda for Rio. I strongly disagree with the governor, but I am the president of a power, I need to maintain an institutional relationship with those who run the state. The government took over our agenda. I am the author of more than ten bills that exonerated the state, including the Sovereign Fund, which was vetoed by Castro. We overturned this and several other vetoes of his. It is even curious that he opens his electoral program on TV as SuperaRJ, a minimum income program proposed by me. I never had any conversations with Castro to articulate electoral politics.
But you participated in some campaign acts in which the governor was… Last weekend I went to two events that were attended by Mayor Eduardo Paes and the candidate for government by the PDT, Rodrigo Neves. I only got on the platform because Eduardo insisted a lot. But I don’t campaign for either Claudio Castro or Rodrigo. I have Freixo.
But there’s a picture of you even kissing the governor’s face. Isn’t it very close to those who oppose? I’m a kisser. I kiss Ash every time I meet him. Picture of me kissing Lula has more than two hundred. There are people from another party making a saint with my name, even though they are from other parties. This is about politics, the result of the relationship that we created here of respect with all parliamentarians, whether from the right or from the left. My institutional position is one, my commitment to my party is another thing.
And how do you position yourself in relation to some expensive agendas on the left that could pass through the Senate, such as abortion rights, drug legalization and gay marriage? Abortion is a public health issue. I position myself in favor of terminating a pregnancy only in cases already provided for by law. And I am completely against any kind of intolerance, whether sexual, religious or of any other kind. But it is important to point out that no Legislative Assembly has elected as many bolsonaristas as ours and, however, we have not regressed in the field of customs. On the contrary, we advance.
Without committing to the right? What magic was that? Dialogue. I’m a merchant’s son, I learned to convince customers from an early age. It’s not, as some would have you believe, that if I talk to everyone, I’m no good. But there is no right-wing agenda that has compromised me. They proposed the end of quotas in the Uerj, for example. Did not pass. Speech is only good for the audience, it doesn’t change anyone’s life.
The voting intention polls give Romario a considerable advantage in the Senate race. What assessment do you make of his mandate? I saw a pamphlet the other day where he claims he brought 360 million reais to the state of Rio. The data does not match what appears on the Senate Transparency Portal. There were 113 million reais committed, of which only 51 million were released. He is lying. My challenge is to make myself known. If I succeed, I’m sure I’ll be elected.
What if you don’t get elected? No problem, I’ve been working since I was 9 years old and I entered the financial market at the age of 17. My life is resolved.
They say a lot that you could accept to participate in the government, do you have any articulation in this regard? The gang jokes, but that’s all. There is no link in that sense. I want to be a senator of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
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