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Bolsonaro Is Stepping Up Radical Rhetoric in Brazil Election Run-Up

- In agribusiness event, president tells supporters to buy guns

- Strategy risks alienating voters he needs for re-election

Jair Bolsonaro [Andre Borges | Bloomberg]

President Jair Bolsonaro is stepping up his aggressive rhetoric in the run up to Brazil’s general election, a strategy that is likely to rally his radical base but risks alienating centrist voters.

In an agribusiness convention on Wednesday, he promised to further ease laws that restrict the ownership of fire weapons if re-elected in October and called on his supporters to arm themselves.

“Our generation can’t be remembered in the future as one that had a chance to do something but cowered before two or three people,” he said in a not-so-veiled reference to top justices who are presiding over the country’s electoral court. “Buy your weapons, that’s in the bible.”

Trailing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in major opinion polls, the former army captain continues to spread conspiracy theories about the integrity of Brazil’s electronic voting system. Unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud are usually accompanied by insinuations that he could mimic Donald Trump and try to overturn the result of the election in case he’s defeated -- a strategy that costs him votes from moderate Brazilians, according to surveys.

At Wednesday’s convention, he cited Argentina and Venezuela as examples of what’s going wrong in the region, and said voters need to make sure Brazil doesn’t follow the same path. “The armed forces are the last obstacle to socialism,” he said.

He also criticized Uruguay, a country with a business-friendly government, because it has eased restrictions on drug use.

On Monday, he gave a five-hour long interview on social media, where he renewed attacks on electoral authorities, Latin American left-wing presidents and minorities in general.


(c) 2022, Bloomberg


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