Laughter and boredom behind the scenes of the most anticipated debate of the campaign in Brazil | International

The most anticipated presidential debate of the electoral campaign for the elections in Brazil this Sunday ended after four hours without the expected deadly duel between Lula and Bolsonaro and with a parade of moments ready to go viral on the internet, which in the studios of the Globo network they were followed with laughter at the beginning and yawning at the end. After circumventing two strict security measures in the gigantic studios on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, in the press room next to the set where the debate was held, more than a hundred accredited journalists, many of them foreigners, followed through screens what was happening a few meters away.

Many did not give credit when attending for the first time the Show of characters like candidate Kelmon Luis da Silva, known as Father Kelmon, a self-proclaimed priest turned aide to Bolsonaro with his ultra-conservative bravado. His confrontation with the candidate Soraya Thronicke, another presidential candidate with hardly any options, delighted the very fast creators of internet memes. “Aren’t you afraid of going to hell?” the candidate told him. Shortly after, Lula accused Kelmon of being in disguise. Laughter and some laughter.

After a repetitive and corseted debate, the whispers were lowered in tone and tired faces predominated. At the end of the debate, the candidates with fewer options answered some questions from the press. Faces of disappointment in the absence of Lula and Bolsonaro. The millimetric planning of the times to guarantee that all the candidates spoke equally in this declaration before the journalists annoyed Senator Simone Tebet and Ciro Gomes, the center-left candidate. Both still trust, at least publicly, in a miracle and being able to place themselves in the second round.

Hours before the debate began, a handful of Lula and Bolsonaro militants gathered at the gates of the gigantic Globo studios. Separated by a few meters of distance, the green and yellow of the Bolsonaristas and the red of the militants of the Movement of the Landless, habitual in the acts of the left, coexisted in a tense calm while the rain gave a truce. On the Lulista side, a stalwart, Susy Kate, who attends all the president’s acts clad in a huge red foam star, the logo of the Workers’ Party (PT), jumped up and down in the middle of the road. “I’m here for whatever it takes, Lula I love you!” She exclaimed on the side of the road.

In a country where campaigning candidates emerge from under the rocks (more than 10,000 candidates will try for the Chamber of Deputies alone), in the run-up to the debate, a woman sought her particular moment of glory. Federal deputy candidate Stella Gaio swarmed among Lula’s supporters somewhat out of place, around a banner in defense of Globo, the same network that PT sympathizers have attacked so much in recent years, with phrases like “coup balloon”, or Bolsonaro’s supporters with expressions like “garbage balloon”.

Gaio perfectly embodies the Brazil of contradictions and fluidity. She was elected councilor of Rio de Janeiro with Bolsonaro’s party, now she is affiliated with Ciro Gomes, center-left, and she does not rule out joining the wave of the “useful vote” and voting for Lula next Sunday.

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