José Arno Appolo do Amaral, the mayor of Alvorada, in Brazil’s the Rio Grande do Sul state, became famous on the internet after becoming a meme. The Mayor became a meme after a photoshopped picture of him and his subordinates inspecting a municipal construction site went viral. The picture shows Mayor do Amaral and his deputy Valter Slayfer at a dredging site in Alvorada. It was posted originally on the official Facebook page of the Alvorada Municipality with a caption that said “detailing the visit”. The two officials allegedly oversaw the part of the operation and declared that they are satisfied with the work of the hydraulic dredger.
People became suspicious of the picture which showed Amaral and Slayfer in the distance with the site supervisor. The two officials seemed to be standing in awkward position and their color tone also seemed odd as compared to the others. The Facebook users started sharing it and questioned its authenticity. When the photo went viral, people started creating memes of Jose Arno Appolo do Amaral and his deputy in all kind of strange things. The photo was later taken down by the Alvorada Municipality without giving any explanation. By then, the photo was already circulating online for a while and when the photo was removed, the media started snooping around and made the matters worse for the mayor.
Celso Dornelles, the director of communication of the Alvorada Municipality, denied that the photo was tampered with in any way but could not explain why it was taken down from the page. The photoshop job was so obvious that even the mayor do Amaral said that it looked fake. He said that he had no involvement in the creation and publication of the image. An internal investigation will be launched on the matter, but the mayor said that whoever was involved in this act will not be fired but will be given a raise. The official jokingly said, “On the bright side, I’m becoming very popular online, maybe I’ll even run for senator soon.”
Jose Arno Appolo do Amaral is among the trending memes in Brazil right now and there are several pages in Facebook which are dedicated to photoshop him and his deputy in various hilarious images, from the moon landing to famous paintings. This is not the first event in which officials have turned to Photoshop to deceive the public. A few years ago, authorities of St. Petersburg Russia did the same twice in one month to show that they have fixed the public infrastructure when they hadn’t.