‘Not him’: Fear and reckoning in Rio

davAt 5pm on Sunday, the same time polls closed across Brazil, a song broke out at the foot of Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Selaron Steps. A coalition of anti-fascist campaigners had gathered there, waving flags and singing: “Ele não”, which means: “Not him”. In recent weeks that slogan has been the rallying cry against the presidential campaign of Jair Bolsonaro, a man so ubiquitous, so alternately loved and loathed, that the ‘him’ doesn’t need to be specified. Bolsonaro is openly and proudly homophobic, racist, misogynistic and undemocratic. But as the campaigners made their way down Rua Joaquim Silva to watch the results come in on a big outdoor screen, past technicolour murals, the waft of marijuana smoke and the kids playing football in the street, the singing died out. They knew they were doomed. Everybody was expecting bad news, the only question was how bad.

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