Brazil's Bolsonaro still the 'Bibles, bullets and beef' candidate

Brazil's Bolsonaro still the 'Bibles, bullets and beef' candidate

Former Military Police Major Elitusalem Gomes de Freitas, wearing a t-shirt bearing the name of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, poses for a picture carrying his guns and the Brazilian flag, in the city of Nova Iguacu
Former Military Police Major Elitusalem Gomes de Freitas, wearing a t-shirt bearing the name of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, poses for a picture carrying his guns and the Brazilian flag, in the city of Nova Iguacu. Photo: Mauro PIMENTEL / AFP
Source: AFP

Four years after President Jair Bolsonaro rode to victory on a groundswell of support from Brazil's "Bibles, bullets and beef" coalition, that powerful trio of groups is still the core of his base.

AFP spoke to Bolsonaro backers from the "BBB" constituencies -- conservative Christians, security hardliners and farmers -- about the October 2 election pitting the far-right incumbent against leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010).

Proud cop

Former Rio de Janeiro police officer Elitusalem Gomes Freitas, 42, says his admiration for Bolsonaro began well before the ex-army captain's 2018 campaign, when the now-president was still a congressman for Rio.

"When officers were killed in the line of duty, other politicians never sent condolences. Bolsonaro did," says Freitas.

"He went to the funerals and paid tribute to our colleagues."

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Freitas, a powerfully built man who spent two decades as a cop before getting into local politics, is now running to represent Rio in Congress, as Bolsonaro once did.

Pictures on his social networks show him with a stern face, a rifle, a Brazilian flag and a black T-shirt stamped with the word "Bolsonaro."

He calls himself a pro-gun father, conservative and "terror of the left."

Bolsonaro's win four years ago "generated huge expectations among conservatives," he says.

"But problems that have been dragging on for 30 years don't get solved in four."

Still, he loves Bolsonaro's "integrity," after what he calls the "robbery" of Lula and his Workers' Party.

Like Bolsonaro, he alleges nefarious powers are plotting a "secret vote count" to steal the election.

"The people accusing Bolsonaro of planning a coup are inverting the narrative. They're the real coup-mongers," he says.

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Values voter

Mariza Russo Feres, at the church where her husband preaches in Sao Paulo, Brazil, fears former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva returning to power
Mariza Russo Feres, at the church where her husband preaches in Sao Paulo, Brazil, fears former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva returning to power. Photo: Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP
Source: AFP

Retired math teacher Mariza Russo Feres, 68, says she prays every day "for Brazil and the president God will choose."

The Evangelical pastor's wife fears Lula returning to power.

"I'm afraid of communism," she says, sitting in a pew at the church where her husband preaches in the upscale Sao Paulo neighborhood of Pinheiros.

She sees Bolsonaro as the defender of family values, and Lula as a threat.

"For example, abortion is anti-Christian, and we're worried about a candidate... imposing it on us," she says, referring to pro-abortion rights statements by Lula, who later back-tracked, facing negative reactions in a country that remains largely conservative on the issue.

Feres also cites the left's supposed imposition of "gender ideology" in schools.

Bible in hand, she kneels, closes her eyes and prays for the country.

Happy farmer

Brazilian farmer Carlos Moresco believes President Jair Bolsonaro has been the best leader in recent history for Brazil's agribusiness industry
Brazilian farmer Carlos Moresco believes President Jair Bolsonaro has been the best leader in recent history for Brazil's agribusiness industry. Photo: EVARISTO SA / AFP
Source: AFP

Farmer Carlos Alberto Moresco, 47, says he is far from "idolizing" Bolsonaro. You won't find any campaign posters for the incumbent on his farm, Fazenda Onca.

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But the facts speak for themselves, he says: Bolsonaro has been the best president in recent history for Brazil's agribusiness industry, opening new markets in Asia and investing in infrastructure that helped boost exports.

"He was very smart in choosing his ministers. Our (former) agriculture minister (Tereza Cristina) was an agricultural engineer," says Moresco, who grows corn and soybeans on the 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) he rents outside the central-western farm town of Luziania.

He is also a fan of the Bolsonaro administration's program to regularize land titles for more than 350,000 farmers who lacked legal deeds.

"He gave dignity to these people who were barely scraping by. Today, with titles to their land, they can take out loans and farm with dignity," he says.

"When someone's loyal to my values and principles, I'm loyal to them. Our president values rich and poor alike, that's why I say he deserves four more years."

Source: AFP

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