SAO PAULO (AP) — Thousands of people took to the streets in Brazil Saturday to protest the candidacy of presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, shouting “Not him!” which has become the rallying cry against the far-right former army captain.
In Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and 24 other cities, large crowds filled avenues and squares a week before the Oct. 28 second-round vote polls suggest Bolsonaro is likely to win.
Bolsonaro, who has angered many Brazilians by praising the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and making comments offensive to gays, women and blacks, won the first round of voting on Oct. 7, getting 46 percent against 29 for Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party.
In front of the Sao Paulo Art Museum, people beat drums and waved gay pride flags as they denounced Bolsonaro. Many carried cardboard signs bearing Haddad’s name and photo.
Tiago Silva, a 27-year-old philosophy teacher, said Bolsonaro “represents the fascism, intolerance and violence we are seeing in Europe and in the United States.”
“It will be a disaster if he wins — and it looks like he will,” he added.
Vinicius Bento, a 27-year-old lawyer, said voting for Haddad is “the only way to stop Bolsonaro and his racist, misogynist and fascists views from reaching the presidency.”
“We have to get Haddad elected,” he said, acknowledging that he didn’t vote for him in the first round because he’d “lost faith” in the Workers’ Party as a result of the corruption scandals it has been involved with. The left-leaning party governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, and has been dogged by the massive “Carwash” corruption investigation.
Bolsonaro has appealed to many Brazilians weary of crime and corruption by promising a violent crackdown on drug gangs and other criminals, and by highlighting the corruption that took place under past Workers’ Party administrations. He has also promised a return to “traditional Brazilian values.”
Haddad, the hand-picked successor to jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has promised to bring back the boom times Brazil experienced under da Silva, fight inequality, invest more in education and improve state services.
AP writer Marcelo Silva de Sousa in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
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