Brazil president makes Argentina a campaign boogeyman

Oct 28, 2022, 6:33 PM | Updated: Oct 29, 2022, 9:03 am
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro campaigns at the rural workers' settlement Nova Jerusalem, or New...

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro campaigns at the rural workers' settlement Nova Jerusalem, or New Jerusalem, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Bolsonaro is running for reelection in the presidential runoff set for Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

              Nara Dauri applies a sticker of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro inside a supporter's car window outside a campaign headquarters where voters who support Bolsonaro's campaign for reelection can get campaign swag for free in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. The presidential run-off election is set for Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
              Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a campaign rally in Belford Roxo, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Bolsonaro is facing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a runoff election set for Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
              Supporters show signs with the image of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for reelection, during a campaign event at the bus station in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Bolsonaro is facing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a presidential run-off election set for Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
              Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro campaigns at the rural workers' settlement Nova Jerusalem, or New Jerusalem, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Bolsonaro is running for reelection in the presidential runoff set for Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — As a Brazilian journalist living in Argentina, Luciana Taddeo says she spends ever-more effort rebutting ever-crazier rumors.

There were claims that Argentina’s presidential palace had been invaded, that people had to leave keys in their cars’ ignitions so the government could use them at any time, that the government had abolished the right to inherit properties.

“Journalists have been forced to dedicate more and more time to say, ‘Look, this isn’t real, this isn’t happening,'” she said.

Many of those rumors have been fanned by the presidential election in neighboring Brazil, where incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro has turned Argentina — already a bitter soccer rival — into a sort of political boogeyman, a warning of the horrors his nation could face if it elects leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro’s campaign began its nightly ad slot on national television with a blast at Argentina’s left-leaning leaders, who have been friendly with his election rival.

“In Argentina, the leftist candidate that Lula supports also promised barbecue and beer for everybody,” said a voice as images showed people complaining of rising poverty and soaring inflation under center-left President Alberto Fernández.

Bolsonaro and his allies had long used another leftist neighbor — crisis-wracked Venezuela — as a cautionary tale, but shifted to Argentina after Fernández defeated center-right President Mauricio Macri — whom Bolsonaro favored — in 2019.

“Venezuela was far away and Brazilians didn’t understand it very much; it was a whole other universe,” said Paulo Pereira, 38, coordinator of da Silva’s campaign in Argentina. “Argentina is the country where many Brazilians go on their first international trip.”

While critics focus on Argentina’s persistent high inflation and import controls, its per capita income still outstrips Brazil’s, by World Bank measures at least, and both have relatively low poverty rates by global standards. Brazil’s homicide rate is roughly four times higher than Argentina’s.

They’re roughly equal in their passion for soccer — and have a deep rivalry over it.

“Among Bolsonaro and his allies, there is almost an obsession related to Argentina,” said Andressa Caldas, 46, a Brazilian human rights lawyer who has lived in Argentina for eight years.

The president’s lawmaker son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, used a trip to Argentina this month to take a swipe at Argentina’s rampant inflation. In a video posted on his social media accounts, he is seen counting out dozens of bills to pay for a meal at a restaurant.

“Paying for lunch in Argentina,” he wrote on his Instagram account. “If you don’t want this for Brazil, vote Bolsonaro.”

The political rivalry is also personal. Bolsonaro in 2019 urged Argentines to vote for Macri rather than Fernández — who had ostentatiously visited da Silva in jail before convictions were thrown out by Brazil’s Supreme Court.

“The ties were already poor, but the electoral context has been very bad for the bilateral relationship because it put political differences at the top of the agenda,” said Esteban Actis, an international relations professor at the National University of Rosario.

Brazilians living in Argentina largely agree there’s certainly plenty to criticize: galloping annual inflation of 83%, a stagnant economy and — just as in Brazil — poverty that affects roughly half of the nation’s children.

“The strange thing is that instead of focusing on the real problems that there are already so many of in Argentina, they have to exaggerate even more the situation, which is already serious,” Taddeo said.

Nattascha Dumke, a 30-year-old medical student who has lived in Argentina since 2018, has almost 80,000 followers on Instagram. She’s accustomed to Brazilians asking about life in Argentina, but recently the tone of the questions has turned much more negative.

“People who want to live here, study here, and even the parents of students here are writing me,” Dumke said. “They ask me about violence, if supermarkets don’t have food, if we’re going hungry.”

Dumke became so exasperated by a viral video that claimed Argentina’s supermarkets were filled with empty shelves that she made her own video refuting the claims and showed fully stocked markets.

The woman who helped make the original empty-shelves video, 25-year-old Maria Laura Assis, pushed back against claims she was spreading falsehoods about Argentina to help Bolsonaro’s campaign.

“What I tell them is to go to the supermarkets and see for themselves,” said Assis, a Brazilian who has lived in Argentina for 15 years. “Today Argentina really does have a limit in the number of units of certain products you can buy and is suffering shortages of certain products due to the closure of imports.”

When Dumke published her video showing shelves full of products in several Buenos Aires supermarkets, many accused her of being the one spreading misinformation.

“Even using videos to try to show the reality of the country … they don’t believe it,” Dumke said. “They’re not alarmed by receiving fake news, they only want to share disinformation for political ends.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in Ne...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation.
20 hours ago
A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
David Klepper, Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

El Salvador journalists sue spyware maker in US court

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Journalists from an investigative news outlet in El Salvador sued NSO Group in United States federal court Wednesday after the Israeli firm’s powerful Pegasus spyware was detected on their iPhones. In January, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog, reported that dozens of journalists and human rights […]
20 hours ago
FILE - People hold signs and shout slogans before the cancellation of the Los Angeles City Council ...
Associated Press

LAPD seeks Reddit search warrant over leaked council remarks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police have sought a search warrant for the Reddit website as they try to identify the person who leaked a racist discussion between Los Angeles City Council members and a powerful labor leader, causing a scandal that has rocked the community and shaken faith in its lawmakers. The LAPD is trying […]
20 hours ago
FILE - AWS CEO Andy Jassy discusses a new initiative with the NFL during AWS re:Invent 2019 in Las ...
Associated Press

Amazon CEO says company won’t take down antisemitic film

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said Wednesday the company does not have plans to stop selling the antisemitic film that gained notoriety recently after Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving tweeted out an Amazon link to it. Pressure has been mounting on Amazon to discontinue sale of the film, called “Hebrews to Negroes: […]
20 hours ago
This photo provided on Dec. 1, 2022, by the North Korean government shows North Korean leader Kim J...
Associated Press

North Korea’s Kim calls for meeting to review state affairs

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for a major political conference before year’s end where he’s expected to address his increasingly tense relations with Washington and Seoul over the expansion of his nuclear and missile programs. North Korea’s state media said Thursday that Kim presided over a meeting of […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Brazil president makes Argentina a campaign boogeyman