How Jair Bolsonaro entranced Brazil’s minorities — while also insulting them

By Anthony Faiola and Marina Lopes

Published originally on The Washington Post

Brazil is a majority nonwhite country, a multicultural mix of ethnicities. So many people here are stunned by an apparent contradiction: How could a man like Jair Bolsonaro be this close to winning the presidency?

The far-right former army captain once said his sons would never fall in love with a black woman, and in 2015, he dubbed African refugees coming to Brazil “the scum of the earth.” The left has sought to portray him as an open racist — a charge the blunt-talking Bolsonaro denies.

But this is what has perhaps shocked his opponents the most. Now polling in the lead by 18 percentage points, the 63-year-old will enter Sunday’s presidential runoff with a surprising group of backers: people of color.

In Latin America’s largest nation, Bolsonaro is now the top candidate among black and mixed-race voters, according to a major polling agency, Ibope. He is supported by 47 percent of that voter pool, compared to 41 percent for Fernando Haddad, his opponent from the left-wing Workers’ Party, or PT.

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