RIO DE JANEIRO – Rumors and conspiracy theories swirled this past week regarding the whereabouts of Zé Gotinha, the mascot for the nation’s national vaccination program.
The clamor surrounding the costumed Zé Gotinha began Wednesday, after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva drew attention to his recent absence. “Where is our beloved Zé Gotinha?” da Silva said in a speech criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.
Zé Gotinha, whose name translates roughly as “Joe Droplet” and who resembles an overgrown Casper the Friendly Ghost, was created in the 1980s to help the health ministry promote vaccination against the polio virus and put children at ease. “The advertisements about vaccines had been very heavy.