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Bolsonarista stronghold in Brazil want to increase support for president out of “patriotism”

By Juliana Steil

Nova Pádua (RS), known as the ‘Little Italian Paradise,’ cast 92.96% of valid votes for Bolsonaro in the last elections.

In the self-styled “Little Italian Paradise”, Brazilian flags are hoisted in backyards, windows, and sidewalks.

This is the view one has when arriving in the center of Nova Pádua, a municipality of 2,500 inhabitants in the Serra Gaúcha that, in 2018, received the title of the most Bolsonarista city in the country.

That year, the local population cast 92.96% of their votes on Jair Bolsonaro – at the time of the PSL.

Read also: Check out our coverage on Brazil

Located 160 km from the capital Porto Alegre (RS), Nova Pádua was a district of neighboring Flores da Cunha before emancipating itself in 1992. The region was shaped by Italian immigrants who left Veneto, Italy, in the 19th century.

It is common to find the national symbol in shops, houses and even cars in Nova Pádua (Photo internet reproduction)

That’s why, in the bar that serves as a bus station for the municipality of a single neighborhood, the elders sit at the door and chat in a language that is certainly not Portuguese.

They speak Talian, a Venetian dialect recognized by municipal law as the city’s official language.

References to Italian roots continue. The houses are colorful and have their own architecture, spacious, tree-lined, and without bars, in no way reminiscent of the large gray buildings that crowd the capital a few hours away.

At the only restaurant in town, Del Miro, wine is served at lunch, and an alcoholic dessert is served naturally at the buffet.

Despite so much support and rescuing Brazilian patriotism from a municipality that recognizes itself as Italian, Bolsonaro did not honor the residents with a single visit during his term.

FLAGS AROUND THE CITY

In contrast to the entire “Italian paradise”, a green and yellow flag flutters with the wind from the mountains in the backyard of a large and luxurious residence on Rua Professor Arcângelo Vazata, the main street in the city.

A symbol of our nation, it was also adopted as a brand for the current president’s campaign.

From inside the house, an elegant lady, with a scarf around her neck, appears.

It is owner Laura Salvador, 77, who explains that the flag is there because of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Independence, but, on the occasion of the presidential elections, it will remain for a while longer in her backyard.

“September is the month of the Homeland. As a teacher, I’ve always done that [display the flag]. Now, as it’s election season, I’ll leave it until later.

There are people who hide their vote, but Brazil needs it now,” she reflects.

Nova Pádua is a small municipality in the Serra Gaúcha with about 2,500 inhabitants, according to the last IBGE Census, carried out in 2010 (Photo internet reproduction)

She, who reveals that she voted for Jair Bolsonaro in the last elections, says she is still unsure about her presidential vote, but she should probably follow “that path” at the polls in October.

The other option would be “the girl with the dark hair”, as she tries to explain during a memory failure, referring to the candidate Simone Tebet (MDB).

The president-elect’s performance was not satisfactory for the retired teacher, but the blame lies with his supporters – or lack of them.

“I was very sorry for the mandate, I put myself in his place. He was a very simple man, but they didn’t let him do what he needed to do. The cleanest vote that could be is for him,” she says.

She links the possible victory of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) – the president’s main opponent – ​​to communism, a speech constantly used by Bolsonaro in the campaign.

“I feel something sad. If he [Bolsonaro] loses, communism will enter, forgive me to be honest. I talk to my granddaughter, 11 years old. She doesn’t vote, but I tell her to pray for Brazil. So that the person who keeps it wins. our green and yellow Brazil”, says Laura, seriously.

SELECTION CRITERIA

The retired teacher is not the only one to decorate the city with the colors of the Brazilian flag. A few meters away, Odila Bisinella, 67, owner of a store that sells shoes, clothes, and accessories, also left her patriotic banner at the store door.

According to the shopkeeper, it was the first thing she did when she woke up on the first of September, but now the flag is there for another reason. “If my Bolsonaro wins, I’ll leave it in every month of October. I’m very patriotic,” she says, with a thick accent.

Despite citing cases of corruption in the PT government, the process that took Lula to prison and also a supposed “communist dictatorship,” is a specific characteristic that catches Odila’s attention and becomes almost decisive for her to choose Bolsonaro: age.

“Lula’s age is a little advanced to govern a country,” she opines.

The PT is, in fact, the oldest candidate among the first places in the polls of voting intentions, at 76 years old. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, is 67. But age is not an impediment in politics.

For example, the current president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, turned 81 in July.

PRINTED VOTE

At the only gas station in Padua, a shy sticker on the glass door mentions the Bolsonarista movement for the return of the printed vote, with a Brazilian flag in the background.

“Sanitation of institutions now. We want a printed vote,” says the sticker.

A car parked at the gas station has the same sticker. The owner of both is Angela Scariot, 44, who reproduces the fake news propagated and never proven by Bolsonaro and says that the electronic voting machines are rigged, but does not point to the source of the information.

“Electric ballot box steals. Why don’t they want to leave a printed vote, if in the market the voucher is on paper?,” she exemplifies.

The post owner was Bolsonaro’s voter in the last elections and intends to repeat the feat.

“I vote for him; I don’t have a political party; I go for the person”, explains Angela. “I believe in him because he’s not the only one in charge, he needs more support. Bolsonaro hasn’t been able to do much because he doesn’t have a group to help him.”

She risks explaining why the “little Italian paradise” has so many flags spread, even after the 7th of September celebrations. “The other government was there for a long time, right? Bolsonaro arrived and renewed everything,” she says.

ISOLATED PTs

Despite the high rate in favor of President Jair Bolsonaro, in the second round of 2018, 134 people from Padua voted for the PT candidate, Fernando Haddad.

These voters don’t seem to display their vote so easily with flags and symbols on their windows and cars, but Angela assures them that everyone knows who they are in a small town like this.

“We know who the PT members are here, each one of them,” she says, without revealing.

“Each one has their vote, but we end up provoking each other, without fighting or offending. When we know, we play provoking. Some get angry, but religion, politics, or football are not discussed,” she assumes.

With information from Terra

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