By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams
Brazilian presidential frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this week accused President Jair Bolsonaro of lying 20 times during a meeting with international diplomats in which the far-right incumbent repeated his baseless attacks on the integrity of the nation’s election system.
“The threat to Brazil is not the electronic voting machines, but the president.”
While offering no credible evidence to support his claim, Bolsonaro told dozens of diplomats from countries including the United States and members of the European Union that the Brazilian electoral system is “completely vulnerable” to fraud in the run-up to this October’s presidential election.
According to Folha de São Paulo, two of the diplomats present for Bolsonaro’s 50-minute presentation at the Palácio da Alvorada, the executive residence, accused the president of using “Trumpist tactics,” a reference to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s failed efforts to delegitimize and ultimately overturn the 2020 election.
Bolsonaro and his running mate, former Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, have repeatedly warned that they may not accept the outcome of the Oct. 2 election if they lose under the current electronic voting system, which has been used since 1996 without evidence of irregularities. In 2000, Brazil became the first country to have a completely electronic voting system.
“It’s a shame that Brazil doesn’t have a president who calls 50 ambassadors to talk about something that interests the country. Employment, development, or the fight against hunger, for example,” da Silva, the leftist Workers’ Party (PT) nominee for this October’s presidential election, tweeted. “Instead, he tells lies against our democracy.”
“Bolsonaro wants to create a mess like Trump did in the U.S.,” da Silva said in a separate tweet. “He wants to create suspicion where there is none. He’s trying to deceive the people to justify some nonsense. He is not afraid of the electronic voting machine, he is afraid of the Brazilian people.”
On Tuesday, da Silva tweeted a link to a PT-affiliated website highlighting “the 20 lies Bolsonaro told the ambassadors.” These include claims that hackers have access to all Superior Electoral Court data and the ability to delete candidates’ names and switch votes, that international observers won’t be able to analyze the integrity of the country’s election system, and that there was fraud in the 2018 presidential election — which Bolsonaro won.
“Monday was another difficult day for the truth in Brazil,” the site noted. “While hunger increases and 61.3 million Brazilians do not know if they will have lunch today, Bolsonaro committed yet another crime of responsibility by convening an event for ambassadors… to parade lies about the security of the Brazilian electoral process… to diplomats who were dumbfounded.”
The page continued:
“With each day closer to an electoral defeat, it is not news that Bolsonaro wants to imitate Trump and promote violence and riots so as not to be removed from the presidency… What he wants is to spread lies to confuse the people.
Unfortunately, he has done so with impunity on social media… Only yesterday YouTube took down a video by Bolsonaro, from July 2021, in which he attacked electronic voting machines with his lies… That’s why it’s important to know the lies told yesterday and, especially, the denials. The Brazilian people cannot fall for this litany. Hunger must be fixed, not the polls.”
Without mentioning Bolsonaro by name, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin — who currently heads the Superior Electoral Court and who came under repeated attack during the president’s speech Monday — told members of the bar association in the southeastern state of Paraná Monday that “there is unacceptable electoral denialism on the part of an important public figure within a democratic country and the accusation of fraud, in bad faith, against an institution, without presenting any evidence.”
Many Brazilian leftists accused Bolsonaro of “announcing a coup” to the diplomats, who, according to Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) politician, activist, and writer Guilherme Boulos, understand that “the threat to Brazil is not the electronic voting machines, but the president.”
Investigative journalist Rubens Valente tweeted that “the amount of misinformation and lies that Bolsonaro is telling ambassadors about the electronic voting machines and the judiciary” marks “a milestone in the history of fake news.”
Luciana Santos, vice-governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco and national president of the Communist Party of Brazil, asserted that Bolsonaro’s speech Monday was “not only shameful, it’s a crime” and “an attack on the country’s sovereignty and the electoral process” that “only reveals his desperation and his authoritarian character.”
Citing election law expert Renato Ribeiro de Almeida, Brasilwire reports that by disseminating lies to the foreign diplomats, Bolsonaro may have rendered himself ineligible to run for president, or, if he’s reelected, may have committed an impeachment-worthy crime.
Bolsonaro, a former army officer during the 1964-1985 U.S.-backed military dictatorship, has praised that brutal regime and extolled as a “national hero” a former colonel who supervised the torture of leftist dissidents including ex-President Dilma Rousseff when she was a young resistance fighter.
Ironically, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency — which played a key role in the 1964 military coup that overthrew reformist President João Goulart —has reportedly rebuked Bolsonaro over his aspersions against Brazil’s electoral integrity.