Brazil is preparing to vote in one of the most crucial elections in the country’s fractured democratic history, the outcome of which is expected to have a huge impact on international politics and the world’s ecological future.
The final hours of toxic competition between far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and former left-wing leader Lula Inacio Lula da Silva, widely known simply as Lula, have seen bitter accusations and recriminations as well as warnings repeated warnings of possible widespread violence in the wake of Sunday’s polls.
There are serious fears that Mr. Bolsonaro, a former army captain who relishes his nickname “Trump of the Tropics”, will refuse to accept defeat and spark a violent confrontation with his armed supporters taking to the streets.
As the campaign drew to a close on Friday, Donald Trump stepped in to urge voters to block Lula, whom he called “a radical leftist madman who will quickly destroy your country.” The former US president, who still wrongfully insists he beat Joe Biden in the 2020 election, previously said “Jair Bolsonaro and I have become great friends over the past few years for the people of the United States. United… He’s a wonderful man.” and have my complete and total approval.
One of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, has met with Trump supporters in the United States. Another, Flavio, a Brazilian senator, used words identical to those of the former US president when he lost the US election alleging that his father would be the “victim of the greatest electoral fraud ever seen”.
The Biden administration said it would move quickly to recognize the winner. The US Senate passed a resolution urging the Brazilian government to ensure a “free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful” election and warning that the United States will critically examine relations with a regime that comes to power through anti-political methods. -democratic, including a military coup”.
Along with the threat of instability and violence in Latin America’s largest country, the international community is deeply concerned about the fate of the Amazon rainforest, known as the “lungs of the planet”, as talks on Cop27 climate summit begins next week amid the UN emergency. warnings that key climate targets are not being met.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s tenure has been marked by a sharp increase in mining, logging and fire permits in the Amazon, made possible by 600 regulatory changes made by his government. Data from the Brazilian space research agency, Inpe, revealed that in the past 12 months alone, deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 64%, affecting an area larger than New York City.
Lula, the 76-year-old former labor leader whom Barack Obama once called “one of the most popular politicians in the world”, has a small lead in the opinion polls in Sunday’s second round, after won the first round without obtaining the required 50 percent of the votes. It reached 48.4%, with Mr. Bolsonaro getting 43.2%.
In a final televised debate before the vote, Lula and Mr Bolsnanro traded insults with little discussion of policy. Lula accused the president of mishandling the Covid pandemic, which has claimed 700,000 lives in the country.
Mr Bolsonaro refused to accept that Covid was a serious threat or to support local and provincial authorities taking action to prevent the spread of the disease. In March 2020, as the disease spread rapidly around the world, he returned to Brazil after having dinner with Mr. Trump at his Florida home in Mar-a-Lago with 22 members of his delegation infected.
Lula also attacked the president for deforestation of the Amazon and for helping to arm criminal gangs by relaxing gun laws, as well as general behavior that has turned the country into an international laughing stock.
Mr Bolsonaro focused on the corruption scandal that bogged down Lula’s former Workers’ Party administration, saying: “Lula, you are a crook… Your government was a champion of corruption.”
Lula was convicted of money laundering during an extensive public corruption investigation and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in 2017. In a series of judgments from 2019 to 2021, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction , released him from prison and ruled that a judge had shown bias in his trial and his court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The debate does not appear to have swayed supporters of either side. “It was just a bit of drama, people made up their minds,” said Antonia Luiz, a 33-year-old teacher on her way to a Lula rally in Sao Paulo. “We had disaster after disaster with Bolsonaro. It’s a chance to start straightening the country with Lula. He is a good man.”
Her friend Marcia dos Santos, 27, feared Mr Bolsonaro would ignore the electorate’s verdict. “He is a dictator by nature, he and his family attacked our state structures,” she said. “Everyone is worried. My mother doesn’t want me on the street after the result. But we have to come out, we have to come out to defend the vote.
At the G-16 range, Bolsonaro supporters were talking about a different kind of subversion. “Lula is basically a bit better than a communist. We’ve had a lot of them in South America. If they try to steal the election, we have to be ready to act,” said store owner Diego Pereira. “Bolsonaro believes in laws, he believes in the church, in our country, these are our values.”
Daniel Pazzini, co-owner of G-16, said, “We welcome members and customers from everywhere. But the fact is that Bolsonaro defends the rights of gun owners, and Lula wants disarmament. An unarmed population would be easier to manage by its government.
The Independent Gt