Tens of thousands of mostly women protesters rallied across Brazil this weekend to show their opposition to the rightwing politician who would be the country’s next president.
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro was released from the hospital on Saturday, three weeks after being stabbed while on the campaign trail. It was not the sort of homecoming he was looking for.
Just one week before the October 7 vote, tens of thousands filled the streets in cities across Brazil to protest extremist positions held by the politician and presidential frontrunner some have likened to Donald Trump. Some 150,000 people turned out at Sao Paulo protest, about 200,000 demonstrators marched in Rio de Janeiro, and dozens of other marches were staged across the country on Saturday.
The national protests were organized by a Facebook group called Women United Against Bolsonaro, which some four million people reportedly have joined.
The organizing slogan of the rally on Saturday in Sao Paulo, one of the largest gatherings, was “Ele Nao” — Portuguese for “Not Him.” The catchphrase was emblazoned on placards and chanted by protesters at rallies across Brazil.
Ana Paulo Goncalves, a 24-year-old teacher who joined the protests, lambasted Bolsonaro as a man out of step with the times. “He is sexist. He is misogynist. He is racist,” Gonçalves told The Guardian in Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro has been likened to U.S. President Donald Trump because of his brashness and his adroit use of social media, as well as his retrograde views on race, LGBTQ issues, and women’s rights.
But his views have found a constituency among Brazilians angered by recurring corruption scandals and ever soaring crime rates.
A longtime lawmaker and former army captain, Bolsonaro is currently ahead in the polls, leading Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo.
He has made statements interpreted as being supportive of the military junta that ruled the country with an iron fist for some two decades, from 1964 to 1985.
“I lived [during] this phase,” Maria do Carmo, 84, who was protesting in Rio de Janeiro and said he had relatives who were imprisoned by the military regime, told The Guardian. “It was terrible.”
Haddad, the Workers’ Party candidate, took the place of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was barred from running because he is currently in prison for a corruption conviction.
In a television interview broadcast on Friday, Bolsonaro suggested Brazil’s armed forces could intervene if his main rivals, the leftist Workers’ party, were found to have engage in cheating during the upcoming vote.
“I don’t accept an election that is not me being elected,” Bolsonaro was quoted as saying in The Guardian, which cited local press accounts.
Bolsonaro and Haddad are expected to square off in a run-off on October 28.