Mixed feelings for Brazilians in Galway as next round of voting looms

The mood amongst the Brazilian community in Galway is tense as the next round of the presidential election draws closer.

Hercules de Araujo Jorges is a 21-year-old Deliveroo rider in Galway, originally from Rio de Janeiro. He is not hopeful for the future of his country and believes neither candidate is good enough to take up the seat.

The young Brazilian explained: “It’s complicated because the two main guys are corrupt and both are thieves, and most of the Brazilians, I don’t know how, trust them.”

Earlier in the month, the leftist Workers Party nominee Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, just edged his rival and current President, Jair Bolsonaro, in the first round. Crucially, however, he did not reach the 50% majority needed to take the presidency.

Tony, a Brazilian chef at Busker Browne’s, said: “The people in Brazil are divided. Mostly because ex-President Lula is coming back. His history isn’t good for our relations abroad. It’s really hard there. Most people don’t like Bolsonaro anymore because of his position about some things, especially social matters.”

Mr Bolsonaro is viewed harshly by Western governments due to conservative policies on social issues such as the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, accelerating deforestation in the Amazon while in office and his views on vaccination during the pandemic.

Tony noted that some of the estimated 70,000 Brazilians living in Ireland emigrated in part due to Mr Bolsonaro’s policies: “He didn’t support poor people, the LGBT community, and he didn’t pay too much attention to vaccines. Because of that, people left Brazil because he didn’t give the right support to them.”

However, the current President still has his supporters, including Rafael Cornetti, a Brazilian living in Loughrea who says the idea of his opponent Lula winning scares him. “What do you want me to say? He is a bad person, like a really bad person. He’s a big-time thief. He’s the most corrupt person in Brazil since Brazil has existed. There was no president ever like Lula in Brazil. Never.”

Mr da Silva held the Brazilian presidential title from 2003-2010. Embroiled in corruption and money laundering allegations, Lula was charged by the Federal Government and found guilty.

Subsequently, he was sent to Federal prison. However, after 580 days, the Supreme Federal Court overturned the decision. The ex-President was freed and cleared of all charges.

According to Rafael, the country under his leadership could slip into the hands of a “socialist” who wants “Brazil to become a Scandinavian country”. Rafael pointed to the political situation of neighbouring Venezuela as his ultimate nightmare. Scholars define Mr da Silva’s Worker’s Party ideology as Social Democratic.

In Ireland, Brazilians voted heavily in favour of Mr da Silva. With 500% more voting this year than in the last election of 2018.

The next round of voting is set to take place on the 30 October.

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