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Rival colors and hand signs… A gang war? No, Brazil’s elections

#Rival #colors #hand #signs.. #gang #war #Brazils #elections

To some, rival colors and hand signs might evoke a gang war.

But in Brazil, the battles of red against yellow or “pistol” gesture versus upturned thumb and forefinger are part of another kind of violent, fratricidal clash: politics.

As the South American giant gets set to vote on October 30 in a polarizing presidential runoff between far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, AFP revisits some of the colorful images and symbols that have marked the campaign.

– Red sea –

Red is the historic color of the Workers’ Party (PT), which Lula co-founded in 1980, and the ex-metalworker’s campaign rallies have looked like giant seas of it.

From T-shirts to flags to sunglasses to towels laid out on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic beaches, there is no end of red gear 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, others a younger, thicker-bearded version from his rabble-rousing union leader days. But the background is nearly always red.

Like an angered bull, Bolsonaro has charged, attacking Lula and his allies as “communists.”

“Your flag has always been red — with a hammer and sickle,” he cracks.

– Waving the flag – 

Bolsonaro has adopted the green and yellow of Brazil’s flag as his colors.

Conservatives first started wearing yellow and green en masse during street protests in 2015 against former president Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s hand-picked successor.

But Bolsonaro, 67, has made them his own — as well as the national football team’s yellow jersey, which he urged supporters to wear to the polls in the first-round election on October 2.

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

Hammering home the message, some vendors sell versions of the flag with Bolsonaro’s face in place of the star-spangled blue disc in the middle, his campaign slogan written beneath: “Brazil above everything, God above everyone.”

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

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

– Pistol vs. ‘L’ –

Bolsonaro’s trademark gesture since the 2018 campaign that swept him to power has been a pistol sign with outstretched thumb and forefinger — a reference to the ex-army captain’s pledge to ease restrictions on guns so “good citizens” can defend themselves from crime.

Under his policies, firearm ownership in Brazil has quintupled.

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

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

– Car campaign –

Some voters have also gotten their cars in on the act, going far beyond the traditional bumper stickers.

One elaborate decal set features a life-size image of Bolsonaro in the front window and Lula in the back, behind bars in a prisoner’s uniform — a reference to the corruption allegations that dog the ex-president.

Provocative, sensationalist and humorous content born online is reshaping the “rigid” rules of how campaigns were run in the past, says political analyst Alana Fontenelle of the University of Brasilia.

“The language of the internet is transcending to the offline world,” she told AFP.

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#Rival #colors #hand #signs.. #gang #war #Brazils #elections

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