The president of Brazil, last Saturday, in an act together with evangelical leaders, in Sao Paulo. Photo: AFP
Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wear bulletproof vests in their electoral acts. Less than three months before the presidential election, in the midst of high tension in Brazil, candidate safety is a major concern.
The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week sparked a wave of concern on social media over the risks ahead of Brazil’s October 2 election.
“Political violence in Brazil has a long history, although until now it has been limited to the municipal level … now we see, partly due to the radical and extreme polarization, that it is reaching the federal level,” Oliver said. ‘AFP. Stuenkel, professor of International Relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in Sao Paulo.
Distant from the rest of the candidates, far-right president Bolsonaro and former Social Democrat president Lula face off in a merciless duel.
The stab at Jair Bolsonaro in 2018
Severely stabbed in the middle of the 2018 campaign by a man with mental disorders, Bolsonaro travels the country again for the ongoing competition.
At 67, still bathes in a crowd, but wears a bulletproof vest.
The Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI), charged with protecting the president, has strengthened his security. The number of troops? A state secret
The moment Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed during an election campaign event in Juiz de Fora in September 2018. Photo: AP
behind closed doors
Lula, 76, remains cautiously away from the crowd and hired private security guards.
“Both can be targeted by extremists, so it’s good to see they take their safety more seriously,” Silvio Cascione, director of the Eurasia Group in Brazil, told AFP.
“Lula’s campaign team is clearly concerned about the risk. He will prioritize acts in enclosed spaces with strict security protocols“, He adds.
It will continue to hold meetings in open spaces, “but less frequently than in its previous campaigns.”
Lula da Silva, Saturday at an event in Sao Paulo. He will now prioritize indoor events. Photo: REUTERS
An example of this concern was an event by Lula in Rio de Janeiro last week, in Cinelandia square, the scene of gigantic demonstrations in the hectic history of Brazil.
“We have never seen it, the square was no longer freely accessible, there were metal detectors to enter,” explains an AFP photographer, who saw the former president wearing a bulletproof vest under his shirt.
His confidence had already been strengthened before the game, with 27 policemen who joined the eight who already protected himaccording to campaign sources cited by columnist Lauro Jardim on CBN radio.
But the launch of a homemade bomb near the audience that night by a man wearing Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) stickers, although no one was injured, caused anxiety.
The gunshot murder last weekend of a local PT representative who was celebrating his 50th birthday in Foz do Iguaçú (south) by a Bolsonaro police officer caused even more stir.
Each side accused the other of fueling the violence.
According to the Observatory on Political and Electoral Violence of the Federal State University of Rio de Janeiro (Unirio), since January 214 cases of violence – from threats to murder – against political leaders, 32% more than in the first half of 2020, the year of the municipal elections.
Like her opponents, Lula will be entitled from the campaign’s official launch on August 16 to a portion of the 300 federal police assigned to a plan to protect candidates, billed as “unprecedented.”
Their number will increase as the risk increases.
Can security transform the campaign?
“I would be surprised if either of them (Bolsonaro and Lula) accepted significant limitations” in the way they campaign, said Stuenkel, for which both “are willing to take a certain risk.”
For these leaders accustomed to crowds, “it is extremely important to promote an image of strong popular support,” adds the analyst.
But in three and a half years of Bolsonaro’s mandate, the political climate has become radicalized strongly.
We see “violent discourse, particularly among groups that support Bolsonaro” and “he himself” has instilled the idea that the election could be stolen from him, says Stuenkel.
“They are trying to turn electoral campaigns into a war, to scare society!” Lula said Tuesday during an act in Brasilia.
Also, the number of citizens registered to own arms in Brazil increased by 474% under Bolsonaro’s mandatean alarming fact for many security experts.
Last Sunday the deputy and son of President Eduardo Bolsonaro celebrated his birthday with a cake decorated with a revolver and sugar bulletsaccording to photos released by his wife on Instagram.