Rival colors and hand signals… A gang war? No, the elections in Brazil

Rival colors and hand signals… A gang war? No, the elections in Brazil


For some, rival colors and hand signals could spark a gang war.

But in Brazil, the fights of red versus yellow, or “gun” gestures against raised thumbs and forefingers, are part of a different breed of violent, fratricidal clashes: politics.

As the South American giant is set to vote in a polarizing runoff between far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on October 30, AFP picks up on some of the colorful images and symbols that have characterized the election campaign.

– Red Sea –

Red is the historic color of the Labor Party (PT), which Lula helped found in 1980, and the former metal worker’s campaign rallies looked like vast seas of it.

From T-shirts to flags and sunglasses to towels laid out on Rio de Janeiro’s famous beaches, there are countless pieces of red clothing on display by fans of the former President (2003-2010) – often with a white PT -star in the middle .

Some accessories feature recent photos of 76-year-old Lula, while others feature a younger version with a thicker beard from his days as a riotous union leader. But the background is almost always red.

Like a raging bull, Bolsonaro has attacked, attacking Lula and his allies as “communists”.

“Your flag has always been red – with hammer and sickle,” he jokes.

– wave flag –

Bolsonaro has adopted the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag as his colors.

Conservatives first began wearing yellow and green en masse in 2015 during street protests against former President Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s handpicked successor.

But Bolsonaro, 67, has made them his own – as has the national soccer team’s yellow jersey, which he urged supporters to wear in the first-round elections on October 2.

“Today people identify the flag with me, with our candidates to lead Brazil – with good people,” the incumbent said last month.

Some vendors hammer in the message, selling versions of the flag with Bolsonaro’s face in place of the star-studded blue disc in the center, including his campaign slogan: “Brazil above all, God above all.”

Lula has called to “save” the flag from “that fascist.”

“Green and yellow belong to all of us,” he says.

– Pistol vs. ‘L’ –

Bolsonaro’s trademark since the 2018 campaign that brought him to power has been a thumb and index finger extended pistol shield – a nod to the former army captain’s pledge to relax gun restrictions so “good citizens” can protect themselves from crime.

Under his policies, gun ownership in Brazil has increased fivefold.

Opponents who criticize the gesture as violent have literally turned it on its head and flipped the pistol to make an “L” for Lula — a gesture the veteran left’s supporters have been using since his first presidential campaign in 1989.

Videos of pro-Lula celebrities like legendary singer Caetano Veloso and ex-footballer Rai making the gesture have gone viral online.

– Auto Action –

Some voters also put their cars in the action, going well beyond traditional bumper stickers.

An elaborate set of stickers features a life-size image of Bolsonaro in the front window and Lula in the back behind bars in a prisoner’s uniform – a nod to the corruption allegations haunting the ex-president.

Provocative, sensationalist and humorous content from the internet is changing the “rigid” rules of how campaigns were run in the past, says political scientist Alana Fontenelle of the University of Brasilia.

“The language of the internet is going into the offline world,” she told AFP.

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