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article imageBrazil VP candidates: polarized, like their bosses

By Louis GENOT (AFP)     Oct 27, 2018 in Politics

Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad, the night-and-day candidates for Brazil's presidential runoff election Sunday, have picked running mates as radically different as they are.

Bolsonaro, a far-right ex-army captain known for heaping praise on Brazil's former military regime (1964-1985), has perhaps unsurprisingly tapped a retired general as his vice presidential pick.

Haddad, a leftist academic, has meanwhile chosen a young communist and self-described "feminist and revolutionary."

Here is a quick introduction to Hamilton Mourao, 65, and Manuela d'Avila, 37.

- The general -

Recent images of candidates for Brazil's vice presidency  Hamilton Mourao  of the Social Libera...
Recent images of candidates for Brazil's vice presidency, Hamilton Mourao, of the Social Liberal Party; and Manuela d'Avila of the Workers' Party

Like front-runner Bolsonaro, who is known for his overtly misogynistic, racist and homophobic rhetoric, Mourao has a history of making controversial remarks.

He has called the colonel who ran the military regime's torture chambers a "hero," and said the army may need to once again "impose a solution" in Brazil.

Mourao was not Bolsonaro's first choice, but several bigger names turned him down.

However, a month after joining the campaign, Mourao found himself thrust to the front line after an attacker stabbed Bolsonaro in the stomach at a rally on September 6.

The attack forced Bolsonaro off the campaign trail, leaving Mourao to fill the gap.

His statements have sometimes landed him in hot water with Bolsonaro's advisers -- something that would seem hard to do on this campaign.

They had to rein him in when he suggested ending Brazilians' Christmas bonuses.

The son of a general who played a key role in the 1964 military coup, Mourao was born in the southern city of Porto Alegre to a family with indigenous roots.

That has not stopped him from making racist remarks about indigenous people and blacks, once saying Brazil suffered from its heritage of "Indian laziness and black craftiness."

And last month, he caused an uproar when he said children raised by single mothers tended to join drug gangs.

Mourao has made it clear he does not plan to be an ornamental VP.

"I see myself as a highly qualified adviser to the president, a man who will be close to him in the Planalto Palace," he said Friday.

- The feminist -

Hamilton Mourao  vice presidential candiate of the Social Liberal Party  can almost match his runnin...
Hamilton Mourao, vice presidential candiate of the Social Liberal Party, can almost match his running mate Bolsonaro's provocative remarks

D'Avila is running with the blessing of the man whose absence has shaped the campaign: popular but controversial ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is serving a 12-year jail term for corruption.

On April 7, the day Lula handed himself in to start his sentence, the Workers' Party founder wrapped an arm around D'Avila at an emotional rally with supporters, calling her the "pretty young" face of the Brazilian left's future.

D'Avila, a state lawmaker from the Communist Party of Brazil, does not usually like comments about her appearance.

But she did not take umbrage this time.

Lula "sees me as a woman who believes in politics and is part of a generation that is going to change it," she said later.

She flirted with making a presidential run herself.

But ultimately she waited. When Lula's own presidential comeback attempt failed in the courts, she teamed up with Haddad, who had been the former president's VP pick and stepped in to replace him.

Smart and outspoken, D'Avila was elected at 23 to the city council of Porto Alegre -- she and Mourao share the same home town. Two years later, she won a seat in Congress.

She served from 2007 to 2015, winning a second term with the most votes of anyone in the chamber.

Returning home to serve in her state legislature in 2015, she sharply defended herself from critics when she was photographed breastfeeding her baby daughter on the assembly floor.

"What about this picture draws people's attention? Women in a place of power, children in places of power. Politics is masculine and full of machismo, there's no space for women," she said.

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