Lula, Bolsonaro trade insults in fiery presidential debate

Sao Paulo, Oct 16 (EFE).- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva traded insults in a fiery televised debate on Sunday, with two weeks to go until the election runoff.

The free-format debate allowed for long exchanges between the two candidates, which led to constant confrontations, in which there was no shortage of low blows and profanities.

They debated without a lectern, face to face, even coming into physical contact at one point when Bolsonaro put his hand on Lula’s shoulder.

Insults set the tone of the debate and stood out above any policy proposals.

Lula wore Bolsonaro down by criticizing his management of the pandemic, the economic crisis and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

On the other hand, Bolsonaro embarrassed Lula by bringing up corruption in the governments of the Workers’ Party between 2003 and 2016.

“Petrolão (Petrobas scandal) was the biggest corruption scheme in human history (…) Money, Lula, that you put down the drain, and most of it shared with your friends,” Bolsonaro said.

Lula acknowledged that there was corruption in the state oil company, but assured that it was discovered due to the transparency of his government.

Lula also charged at Bolsonaro for the high pandemic death toll, saying his “negligence caused 680,000 people to die when more than half could have been saved.”

“In the history of any government in the world, there is no one who played with the pandemic and with death as you did,” he added.

He called Bolsonaro a dictator and a “liar,” while the current head of state called his predecessor a “national disgrace” and a “thief.”

On Sunday Bolsonaro unleashed controversy when he used a colloquial phrase that could be understood as that he was attracted to some teenage Venezuelan girls, who he asked to visit in their house, and suggested were prostitutes. This also came to light in the debate.

The first to allude to the case was the right-wing leader, who complained that the opposition had used his statements to accuse him of pedophilia, in order to counter what he holds up as his most important principal – defense of the family.

Later Lula, without referring directly to the case, said that whoever knows Bolsonaro knows what he did, and opined that “he must have gone to bed with a very heavy conscience” because he got out of bed past midnight to deny the accusations.

Brazilians will return to the polls on Oct. 30 to choose between Lula and Bolsonaro.

In the first round of the elections, held on Oct. 2, Lula was the most voted-for candidate, with 48.4 percent, compared to 43.2 percent for Bolsonaro. EFE


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