The left-wing favorite to become Brazil’s next president called the far-right incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro“a tiny dictator” and “the king of fake news and stupidity” during a television debate that will help define the political future of one of the world’s largest democracies.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who almost beat Bolsonaro in the first round of the September presidential election, he admonished his opponent for his handling of Covid and increase in Amazon deforestation during the energetic two-hour meeting.
“The fact is that their negligence ensured that 680,000 people died, more than half of whom could have been saved,” Lula told Bolsonaro, whose sabotaging of coronavirus containment measures and vaccination efforts caused global outrage.
“Never before in history has there been a government that fooled around with a pandemic or with death like you did,” Lula, 76, said of Bolsonaro, who dismissed covid as “a little flu” and claims that it has not been vaccinated.
Lula, to whom The polls give an advantage of five or six points over Bolsonaro before the second round on October 30, he also attacked his rival’s assault on the environment. “You showed no respect for the Amazon, none at all,” Lula said, promising to create a ministry for native peoples if he is elected.
“We are going to win these elections to take care of the Amazon and prohibit the invasion of indigenous lands and illegal mining.”
Bolsonaro struck back in what was the first face-to-face debate between the two politicians during this year’s contentious power struggle.
The far-right radical, who was elected in 2018 after Lula was jailed on corruption charges that were later overturned, rebuked his adversary for the corruption scandals that ruined the 14 years his Workers’ Party (PT) was in power. in power, from 2003 to 2016. “You are a national disgrace,” Bolsonaro declared during the debate in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo.
Bolsonaro accused Lula of flirting with leftist autocrats, including the leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela, Daniel Ortega and Nicolás Maduro. But Lula has rejected those accusations, saying it was Bolsonaro, a former soldier known for celebrating dictators like Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, who posed a threat to Brazil’s young democracy.
“My opponent is basically the most shameless liar there is,” Lula said. “I am the one who defends democracy and freedom, much more than this tiny dictator… I want to govern this country democratically as I have done twice before,” said the former union leader, who governed from 2003 to 2010.
Progressive Brazilians had expected Lula to sweep away with resounding victory about Bolsonaro in the first round of the elections, but the populist who admires Donald Trump it fared better than most polls had predictedsecuring 43% of the vote against 48% for Lula. The polls had predicted Bolsonaro would receive no more than 37%.
Lula remains the favorite to win, but Bolsonaro’s better-than-expected performance means the election is likely to remain exciting until the results are announced.
In recent days, both candidates have embarked on a lightning campaign in the three southeastern states that should decide the result, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Together they house nearly 64 million of Brazil’s 156 million voters.
Last week, Lula visited one of Rio’s largest favelas, the Complexo do Alemão, in a bid to win over working-class voters.
Bolsonaro risked alienating hundreds of thousands of favela residents during Sunday’s debate by suggesting that Lula had visited the community to socialize with criminals. “There were no police around you, just drug dealers,” Bolsonaro said, sparking outrage from favela activists.
“Bolsonaro does not like the poor. Bolsonaro does not like blacks. Bolsonaro doesn’t like those from the favela,” tweeted René Silva, the Complexo do Alemão media activist who organized Lula’s visit to the favela.