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Episodes of political violence recorded throughout Brazil, anti-PT protest scheduled for October 21

Reports abound of individuals who have been physically or verbally attacked for either voicing support for the Workers' Party (PT) and its candidate Fernando Haddad, or denouncing the right-wing Social Liberal Party's (PSL) candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Similar instances of hate crime, mainly blamed on Bolsonaro supporters, are also reported against black citizens, the poor, LGBT individuals/supporters, women and feminists, citizens from Brazil's Northeast, among others. Most notable so far, a capoeira teacher in Salvador, Bahia State, was stabbed and killed after an alleged political discussion on the night of October 7, when the first round of elections were held. Separately, the Vem Pra Rua citizens movement is calling for nationwide protests against the PT on October 21, asserting at the time of writing that demonstrations have been confirmed in 192 cities and that over 1.2 million people have been invited to the protests. In Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators will gather at Copacabana’s Post (Posto) 5 at 10:00 (local time). In Sao Paulo, protesters will meet outside the Museum of Art (MASP) at 14:00, along the Paulista Avenue. A list of cities and times of each protest can be found in this link.

The attacks being recorded throughout the country evidence the polarization of the electoral climate, which is at its peak since the end of military rule in 1985. While rivalry, even intense, between left- and right-wing supporters has been common in electoral periods, the willingness to use outright threats and violence marks a strong deterioration of democratic norms. While attempts against right-wingers have also been reported, most of the violence is directed against those perceived to be leftists and minorities. We link this to the many confrontational and anti-democratic statements made by Bolsonaro throughout his careers, which is likely serving as justification by the attackers, together with the perception that such crimes will go unpunished. Despite more moderate statements by Bolsonaro while campaigning in the second round, we assess this trend will increase ahead of the new vote on October 28. Meanwhile, despite the claims from organizers, the October 21 demonstrations are not yet of widespread knowledge, and we assess at this time that the turnout will not surpass the low dozens of thousands in major cities. Even so, while organized confrontations are not likely during the day, localized scuffles or fights between political opponents may take place.

Those residing or operating in Brazil are advised to maintain vigilance in the vicinity of political demonstrations, while refraining from wearing or carrying visible displays of political affiliation and from entering into political arguments with unknown individuals. Allot for traffic disruptions near demonstrations on October 21.

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