Brazil’s Bolsonaro ‘fomenting violence,’ rival candidate Haddad tells AFP

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PAULO, Oct 14, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate
Jair Bolsonaro is “fomenting violence” and is a danger to democracy, his
leftist rival Fernando Haddad told AFP on Saturday.

Haddad, trailing in the polls ahead of an October 28 runoff, argued
against Bolsonaro’s pledge to ease gun laws for citizens to combat rampant
insecurity and highlighted contentious remarks Bolsonaro has made.

“My adversary foments violence, including a culture of rape,” Haddad said,
recalling an episode when Bolsonaro told a congresswoman she didn’t “deserve”
to be raped by him.

He stressed he believed Brazil was seeing the biggest peril since
returning to democracy three decades ago, saying: “In my opinion, the big
threat to the continent is Bolsonaro.”

The charges were made as violent incidents linked to the election occurred
in various parts of Brazil. Early this week, a man was stabbed to death in a
bar for reportedly yelling support for Haddad’s Workers Party. A transgender
woman also said she was beaten by Bolsonaro supporters in the street.

Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo, is fighting to close a big gap
between him and Bolsonaro, who admires US President Donald Trump and is
nostalgic for Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

Haddad is pushing for televised debates that his rival has so far avoided,
initially because of a wound Bolsonaro suffered when a lone assailant stabbed
him while campaigning last month.

– ‘Intolerance’ –

In the first round of the election last Sunday, Bolsonaro easily
dominated, winning 46 percent of the vote to Haddad’s 29 percent.

A subsequent Datafolha survey suggested Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper
running on an anti-crime, anti-corruption platform, had 58 percent voter
support going into the run-off, against 42 percent for Haddad.

In his interview with AFP in Sao Paulo, Haddad homed in on the
frontrunner’s message that has resonated most with Brazilians: Bolsonaro’s
law-and-order pledges that include making it easier for citizens to defend
themselves with firearms, boosting the police force, and lowering the age of
criminal responsibility to 16.

“Arming the population will resolve nothing. It’s the state that has to
implement public safety,” he said.

He added that the outgoing government had fallen short in this area,
especially in combating organized crime.

Bolsonaro was singularly unsuited to fighting violence, Haddad said,
pointing to a campaign moment when the far-right candidate feigned
shooting up the Workers Party.

“How can a person preaching intolerance offer security to anyone?” he
asked.

– Admits ‘errors’ –

Haddad also pushed back against a public perception highlighted by
Bolsonaro that the Workers Party, in power from 2003 to 2016, was corrupt —
a view confirmed by the incarceration of its icon, former president Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva, for corruption.

His party had made “errors,” he admitted.

“Our government didn’t brush anything under the carpet. Obviously, what
people saw outside the carpet wasn’t pretty but that was combated with
legislation we approved and… all organs of the state will be strengthened
in our new government,” Haddad said.

“I share the same view as society that corruption is something
intolerable.”

But he also pointed to Bolsonaro’s very thin record of being involved in
passing laws despite nearly three decades in Congress, saying: “He rails
against things. But what he proposes has no consistency whatsoever.”

Haddad declared: “That person is leader in the polls, but he will lose.”

Lula, he said, was “very happy” at Haddad’s performance so far in the
elections, especially as he had been a late replacement for the ex-president
in September, after a court ruled Lula to be ineligible to run again.

Haddad also tackled attempts by Bolsonaro’s campaign to claim the Workers
Party was the same as the Socialist regime running neighboring Venezuela, in
crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.

The Workers Party’s run in government in Brazil “didn’t look anything like
what is happening in Venezuela,” he said, adding that his party “was born in
the challenge to all authoritarian regimes on the left and right — unlike
Bolsonaro whose roots are in the military dictatorship.”