'Flowering of hate': bitter election brings wave of political violence to Brazil
Brazil 'Flowering of hate': bitter election brings wave of political violence to Brazil
Supporters of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in polls, have attacked journalists and activists
The two contenders in Brazilâs bitterly-contested presidential race have urged calm after a wave of attacks on journal ists, activists and members of the LGBT community by supporters of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro including beatings, a knife attack and a murder.
Supporters of the former paratrooper â" himself the victim of a botched assassination attempt last month â" have also reportedly been targeted with violence.
But an investigation by independent journalism group AgÃªncia Publica found that an overwhelming majority of the violence was committed by supporters of Bolsonaro, who polls give a 16-point lead over his leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, ahead of the second round runoff on 28 October.
AgÃªncia PÃºblica said bolsonaristas were behind 50 separate attacks since 30 September. In the same period, six Bolsonaro supporters were assaulted, the report found.
âThere is a flowering of hate that I have never seen before,â said a reporter who was attacked by Bolsonaro supporters in the north-eastern city of Recife. âI am frightened because it coul d be anyone now.â'Enraged, disillusioned, desperate': how will Brazilians vote in 2018? Read more
Voter frustration over spiraling violence and eye-watering corruption â" as well as an explosion of inflammatory fake news â" mean an unusually toxic atmosphere has enveloped this yearâs election.
Activists say that online threats have soared since campaigning begin, while videos of soccer fans chanting âBolsonaro will kill queersâ have spread terror among LGBT people.
Several attacks were reported on Sunday, when Bolsonaro secured his resounding victory in the electionâs first round.
The 40-year-old female reporter was assaulted at knife point as as she went to vote, when two Bolsonaro supporters spotted the journalistâs credentials hanging from her neck.
One of the men, who was waving a knife and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the candidateâs face, grabbed her arm and told her: âWhen my commander wins th e election you lot in the press will die.â
âThe other one said, âLetâs take her off and rape her,â and the one with the knife, said, âNo, âLetâs cut her,ââ said the journalist, who asked to withhold her name because she received threats after reporting the attack.
She was scratched with the knife across her face and arms, before the two men ran off when a passing motorist blasted her horn.
Hours later, in the coastal city of Salvador, Romualdo da Costa, 63, a ma ster in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira, was stabbed to death after a row over politics, police said.
Da Costa had said he voted for Haddad while the man who stabbed him declared support for Bolsonaro, BBC Brasil reported.
Bolsonaro shrugged off the attacks. âA guy with my T-shirt goes too far. What has that got to do with me?â he told reporters on Wednesday. âI am not in control of the millions and millions of people who support me. The violence comes from the other side.â
Later he changed tack, tweeting that he did not want votes from âthose who practice violence against people who donât vote for meâ.
Haddad also condemned the attacks. âWe have to put an end to this violence,â he told reporters.
AgÃªncia PÃºblica reported that one woman was arrested and left naked in a cell after police in SÃ£o Paulo caught her spraying the anti-Bolsonaro slogan âEle NÃ£oâ (âNot himâ) on a wall. Police officers overwh elmingly support Bolsonaro, who has promised to give them more leeway to shoot suspects.
AgÃªncia PÃºblica also reported that a university professor in Bahia state was arrested after running over a man selling Bolsonaro T-shirts.
The violent mood has played out on the internet in the form of social media threats, a tsunami of fake news, and an online game featuring a cartoon Bolsonaro who attacks feminists, leftists and political opponents.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the game, Bolsomito 2K18, whose description reads: âDefeat the communistic evils in this politically incorrect game and be the hero that will free the nation from misery.â
Fatima Arruda, 36, a black, LGBT Brazilian activist who lives in Germany and has 120,000 followers on her Facebook page, said threats against her have multiplied since the campaign began.
âIâm lucky I donât live in Brazil. If I was there I think something bad would have happened to me,â she said.
Bolsonaro himself is notorious for repeatedly making homophobic and sexist comments â" once saying he would rather a child of his died than turn out gay. Earlier this month he was ordered to pay a Â£10,000 fine by a Rio court for racist comments about black Brazilians. He is appealing the ruling,
Crisnando Lima, 26, a gay design student in the city of Teresina said he was walking to his local supermarket on Sunday when two men grabbed him and said: âWhen Bolsonaro wins, we will start beating up gays.âRoger Waters divides crowd with anti-Bolsonaro comments at Brazil concert Read more
Brazilâs poisonous political climate was made apparent in March, when Marielle Franco, a gay, black Rio de Janeiro city councilor, was murdered along with her driver, in what investigators believe was a targeted assassination.
A week before the election, two candidates from Bolsonaroâs Social Liberal party, posed grinning with the broken r emains of a replica street sign bearing Francoâs name, which had been hung outside Rioâs town hall by her supporters.
The two men were later elected to congress and Rio de Janeiroâs state legislature.
Meanwhile Francoâs sister Anielle, 34, has described how she was threatened by four men last week after picking up her two-year-old daughter from school. âBullshit leftist,â they screamed at her, âget out of here, feminist.â
She told the Guardian that she had been previously threatened online, but never in person. âThere were so many insults I couldnât remember them all,â she said.Topics
- Jair Bolsonaro
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