Brazil’s Women Rise Against Possible Far-Right Presidency
Women in Brazil took to the streets across the country, to declare their opposition to far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, ahead of Sunday’s presidential vote
GREG WILPERT: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Greg Wilpert joining you from Baltimore.
This coming Sunday, October 7, 147 million Brazilians are eligible to vote in the country’s elections for president, Congress, state governors, and state legislatures. It will be a historic vote for several reasons. First, this is the first election following the impeachment, which many say actually was a coup, of President Dilma Rousseff. Second, the leading presidential candidate, former president Lula da Silva of the Workers Party, was barred from running in what his supporters and many independent analysts call a rigged trial on charges of corruption. Third, the vote could very well result in the election of a right-wing extremist, Jair Bolsonaro, who has a long history of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and support for Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship, which governed Brazil between 1964 and 1985.
Ever since the disqualification of Lula da Silva from the race last month, Bolsonaro became the frontrunner, with some polls giving him as much as 32 percent support. Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad, who replaced Lula just a few weeks ago, is now polling in second place with about 25 percent support. Since no one is expected to win at least 50 percent in the first round, there will probably be a runoff vote between both Bolsonaro and Haddad on October 28.
Joining me now to take a closer look at Brazil’s upcoming elections is Cecilia Olliviera. She’s a journalist with The Intercept, and joins us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thanks for being here, Cecilia.
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: It’s my pleasure.
GREG WILPERT: So over the weekend, tens or even hundreds of thousands of women went out to protest against the right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro. Let’s start with those protests that took place in cities across Brazil. What prompted so many women to go out on the streets and protest against him? Tell us about the movement, and what they’re saying and doing about Bolsonaro.
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: So the last weekend, a lot of women just go to the streets to say not him, and say not him because he [does not] represent the women interests. So he has been very misogynist, very racist, very homophobic. And we don’t want this kind of [inaudible]. So we are saying not him. But just not him. We are saying that you can vote to anyone. We have, we have 13 candidates running. So you have choice. But not him, because he is an extremist. And we used to say that he is not like Trump, because a lot of journalists and people are saying that he’s a Brazilian Trump. He’s not. He’s a Brazilian Duterte. It’s far, way worse than that.
GREG WILPERT: Just to clarify for our viewers, you’re referring to Duterte, the president of the Philippines who some would say is even more extreme than Donald Trump. Now, I just also want to refer to another backlash that seems to be going on, not just against Bolsonaro, but also against the assassination of Marielle Franco, a leftist black activist and politician who is running as a vice gubernatorial candidate for the state of Rio de Janeiro. She was brutally murdered last March, and no one has been arrested so far. Now, according to some reports, more black women are now running for Congress than ever. Tell us about the impact Marielle Franco’s assassination had on women and on this election season.
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: Yeah. Marielle Franco was running for the first time. So she had a very expressive number of votes. She had a big representation here, and she was always fighting fights that common women have. Like she was fighting to have better school; she was fighting to have better salaries; against police brutality. So it was our fights that she was fighting for. And a lot of the black women are running now. And we used to say that Marielle was a seed. So she is flourishing now through another and another and other women.
It’s kind of Marielle, it’s also black women running, and really chances to win. So we are, we have hope again. We can say that. And we have hope [inaudible] we don’t have hope in another hand because we have not seen enough chances to discover who did this. We are not seeing a real interest, politics interest and police interest to resolve this, to give us real results. We are not seeing this.
GREG WILPERT: I also want to turn now to the PT candidate, Fernando Haddad, and his running mate Manuela Dávila. We actually have had other stories about Fernando Haddad, so I want to focus a little bit more on Manuela Dávila.
Tell us about her, and what her candidacy means for this election race and for how Haddad’s presidential race.
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: This year we have a lot of woman’s races. So we have four women running. And Manuela, it’s in another, another step. Because PT was getting a little late to really resolve who was running, because they are putting all the chances on Lula. But the Supreme Court decides that Lula could not run, so they had to choose Haddad. So Manuela was the third choice, but now she is the, she is the second choice being raised. So Manuela Davila of has a [inaudible] in public life. She is in public life like since ever, basically. And she was always fighting for women’s right. And she was the one who used to use to breastfeed on the public, on the public [house]. So it’s very important has this kind of woman running, saying that you can do this, and you can be a mother and do this. And PT choosing Manuela Dávila can show that the PT can also talk with another party. But it’s the kind of the same wing of [CORE].
And this is also kind of, the kind of thing that we are discussing now, because today we have news calling for a big alliance to [inaudible] Bolsonaro. And people are trying to have a center alliance also. So Ciro Gomes, the second, the best- the second candidate running, is trying to get endorsement from [outgoing], and have one alliance against Bolsonaro. So this election it’s kind of crazy, because it’s terrible that you have some kind of Duterte basically winning. And another other side, it’s just to try to get [for us to avoid it]. So we have kind of terrible times in Brazil.
GREG WILPERT: Now, according to the polls, it looks like almost certainly Haddad and Bolsonaro will face each other in the second round vote on October 28. How do you see the chances of each of them of actually winning later on? That is, in the second round. And how could it be that someone with such extreme views as Bolsonaro has actually a real chance of becoming Brazil’s next president? How do you explain that?
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: Some think it’s very difficult at the time, because we have resistance every day to try to understand what’s going on and what’s coming, because the last election we had Dilma and [inaudible] running. And I asked what was a better position in the last, in the last [results]. So now we have people trying to understand why Dilma win and not [inaudible]. Because maybe it’ll happen again this time.
So we don’t have nothing really decided. But I think that if Bolsonaro wins will be terrible, but if Haddad wins, we will, we will not have peace times. Because we used to say that people like Bolsonaro are now very comfortable to speak out his ideas. So even Bolsonaro doesn’t win, we have a lot of Bolsonaros just walking on the streets. So it’s bad times anyway.
GREG WILPERT: We’re definitely going to watch this very carefully and very closely after October 7. We’re going to leave it there for now. I’m speaking to Cecilia Olliviera, a journalist with The Intercept in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thanks for having joined us today, Cecilia.
CECILIA OLLIVIERA: Thank you. Pleasure.
GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network.