As Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro steams ahead to what seems a likely victory on October 28, a climate of fear is spreading amid mounting reports of violence against non-supporters and journalists — including online intimidation, physical attacks, and even murder. His rival, Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, trails by 18 points in the latest polls.
In Salvador, the country’s capital of Afro-Brazilian culture, Paulo Sérgio Ferreira Santana was jailed last week for the killing of Moa do Katendê, a master of the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira, in a bar, hours after Bolsonaro narrowly missed winning the election in the first round of voting.
Eyewitnesses said the pair argued about politics and traded insults before Santana, a Bolsonaro supporter, paid his bill, left, returned with a knife, and stabbed the capoeira master, a Workers’ Party supporter, 12 times in the back.
“Some guy with one of my shirts commits an excess. What do I have to do with it? I lament it.”
At a rally last month, Bolsonaro grabbed a camera tripod and pretended to shoot it like a rifle, telling a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, “Let’s shoot the petralhada here,” using a derogatory term for Workers’ Party voters. It was hardly an isolated comment in his decades-long career of praising torture, hate crimes, and political violence. The candidate, however, denied any responsibility for Katendê’s death. “Some guy with one of my shirts commits an excess,” said Bolsonaro. “What do I have to do with it? I lament it.”
He pointed out that, in fact, he was a victim of electoral violence, referencing a recent incident where he was stabbed by a mentally ill attacker while on the campaign trail, which landed him in a hospital for three weeks. “I ask people not to do this,” he added. “I have no control over millions and millions of people who support me.”
Since September 30, more than 70 politically motivated attacks and threats have been documented across Brazil — at least 50 of which were perpetrated by Bolsonaro supporters and six against them, according to data from the Brasil.io data lab,