Bolsonaro extreme views raise fears of political violence in Brazil
In light of the Brazilian right's provocative acts, experts fear Bolsonaro's rhetoric could lead to political violence.
Brazil's political leaders called for calm following the killing of Marcelo Arruda, a Workers’ Party member, that prompted concerns that political violence will erupt ahead of October’s presidential election in the country, The Guardian reported.
AFP also mentioned that far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have both taken to wearing bullet-proof vests to campaign rallies ahead of the October elections, with the candidates' security viewed as a major concern in an atmosphere of deep political polarization.
Lula, the leftwing former president and Workers’ party leader, sent his condolences to Arruda's family, and called for "dialogue, tolerance and peace."
On his part, Bolsonaro, the incumbent far-right President, claimed that he did not want the backing of violent supporters. However, he posted tweets attacking the left for an "undeniable history of violent episodes."
The Guardian pointed out that "Bolsonaro has a history of truculence and his supporters are behind a string of recent attacks that culminated last weekend in the murder of the Workers’ party treasurer in the western city of Foz de Iguaçu."
While celebrating his 50th birthday, Marcelo Arruda was shot by a federal prison guard shouting slogans in favor of Bolsonaro. Arruda was a leading member of the Brazilian Workers' Party.
Arruda's murder came two days after another Bolsonaro supporter threw a crude homemade device containing feces on a Lula crowd in Rio de Janeiro.
Three weeks before, a drone dropped what was reported to be raw sewage on a pro-Lula gathering in Minas Gerais state.
On this matter, Darci Frigo, president of Brazil’s National Human Rights Council, considered that "this far-right group, a lot of whom, including the president, have fascist ideas, doesn’t want to recognize institutions and the established rules of the game."
"Bolsonaro has made a decision to eliminate the left and he has allowed his supporters to use violence to do that, to divide and hate," Frigo considered.
He indicated that "what happened in Foz de Iguaçu is not an isolated case, it was encouraged by the president’s rhetoric."
The Guardian cited experts as saying that Bolsonaro's current advance in most polls by double figures is due to much of the President's "inflammatory language".
The Brazilian President adopted extremist views against women, Afro-Brazilians, and the left.
In 2018, he told a crowd in Acre that he wanted to “strafe” leftists and “run them out” of the state.
The newspaper website highlighted that despite his rhetoric, Bolsonaro himself was subject to political violence. A month before his 2018 presidential win, he was stabbed and spent weeks in hospital.
Felipe Borba, the coordinator of a political violence thinktank at Rio’s Unirio university, told The Guardian that Bolsonaro's rhetoric hasn't changed during his time in office, adding that his disappointing poll numbers are forcing him to adopt more extreme views to frighten opposition campaigners.
"The use of violence against rivals is stimulated as part of an electoral strategy … especially by President Jair Bolsonaro against the supporters of ex-President Lula," Borba mentioned, adding that Bolsonaro "is also doing it to shift focus away from the country’s real problems."
In the same context, a study conducted by Borba's office revealed that the number of politically motivated attacks in 2022 is higher than in the same period two years ago.
“If Bolsonaro loses the election and you put that together with his intolerance and the perception that he was cheated, we could have violence on a grand scale after the elections, something close to what we saw in the United States with the invasion of the Capitol,” warned Borba.