Bolsonaro, Lula supporters watch Brazil’s final presidential debate with football fervour

© Julia Courtois, FRANCE 24

As Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro traded barbs with his leftist rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in the final debate ahead of Sunday’s presidential face-off, supporters of the two candidates gathered in their respective strongholds to watch the faceoff. The fiesty debate was as dramatic as a football match, but the fans were divided on the outcome.

When Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva uttered the words, "Father, forgive the ignorant," the Armazem do Campo cinema in Rio de Janeiro’s Lapa neighbourhood erupted with whistles and approving cheers.

Lula's supporters did not choose this venue to watch Brazil’s final presidential debate at random. The Armazem do Campo cinema is a cultural stronghold of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), the militant Brazilian peasant organisation supporting equitable land distribution that has challenged traditional property rights.

Bolsonaro, who has close links to Brazil’s agribusiness industry, is a harsh critic of the MST and the organisation has backed Lula in the 2022 presidential race.

In this leftist stronghold, there are no fans of Bolsonaro, who has called land rights activists "terrorists".

"Jair Bolsonaro's government is oppressing us, he has given the landlords permission to shoot at us," said Renato Souza, a tall man with greying hair. An MST member, Souza was referring to frequent attacks on the organisation during Bolsonaro's tenure, when MST activists were frequently threatened and in some cases, even murdered.

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