Bolsonaro: Brazil’s ‘freedom’ at stake in Sunday’s elections

Brasilia, Sep 28 (EFE).- President Jair Bolsonaro said at a rally Wednesday that Brazil’s freedom is at stake in Sunday’s elections, while former head of state Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent the day prepping for the last debate of the campaign.

Speaking at a rally in the southeastern city of Santos, Bolsonaro once again presented himself as a defender of the “traditional family” and accused Lula of intending to legalize drugs and abortion, a medical procedure only allowed in Brazil in certain cases, including rape and risk to the mother’s life.

He also called his opponent “the biggest thief in the history of Brazil,” a reference to corruption convictions that were annulled by the Supreme Court last year.

Those remarks were the latest salvos in a vicious campaign in which the president has branded Lula a criminal and the frontrunner has said the incumbent is guilty of “genocide” because of his response to the coronavirus, which he termed a measly flu.

He and other Bolsonaro critics say he showed reckless disregard for people’s health and is primarily responsible for Brazil’s having the second-most Covid-19 deaths worldwide after the United States.

The retired army captain said at the rally that Brazil’s “freedom” is on the line in the Oct. 2 election and reiterated that “as a soldier I vowed to give my life for my country. And I’ll also give my life for our freedom.”

The event in Santos was the president’s last public event prior to Thursday night, when he, Lula and five other candidates will take part in a debate organized by TV Globo, Brazil’s largest commercial TV network.

Four days before Brazilians head to the polls for the first round of voting, Lula has a clear advantage of between 12 and 15 percentage points over the rightist incumbent.

Although Lula spent the day preparing for a showdown deemed key to convincing undecided voters, he still picked up the support of a former Supreme Court chief justice for the second straight day.

Joaquim Barbosa, who oversaw a trial that saw several key members of Lula’s 2003-2010 government convicted of orchestrating a parliamentary vote-buying scheme, gave Lula his support on Tuesday.

Then on Wednesday, Jose Celso de Mello Filho also publicly backed Lula, saying that “out of respect for the inviolability of the democratic order” he cannot support Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly stoked concerns about the nation’s electronic voting system and is seen to be laying the groundwork to contest his likely defeat at the ballot box.

On Wednesday, the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Alexandre de Moraes, said the electronic system adopted in 1996 has not been the subject of any complaints about irregularities.

De Moraes, who also is a Supreme Court justice, said the TSE is “absolutely transparent” and on Sunday will be at the disposition of political parties, election observers, the Attorney General’s Office and all the entities that have registered to monitor the voting process. EFE


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