Roger Waters divides crowd with anti-Bolsonaro comments at Brazil concert

  • Ex-Pink Floyd bass player warns: ‘Neo-fascism is on the rise’
  • Remarks at São Paulo gig draw cheers and jeers from audience

Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters waded neck-deep into the acrimony of Brazil’s presidential election on Tuesday night, condemning the far-right frontrunner, Jair Bolsonaro, as a neo-fascist in the mold of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

During a concert at São Paulo’s Allianz Park stadium, Waters drew cheers of support and a barrage of expletives for repeatedly denouncing Bolsonaro, the dictatorship-praising populist who is in pole position to become Brazil’s next commander-in-chief.

Bolsonaro won the election’s first round on Sunday with nearly 50m votes and will face the second-placed Workers’ party (PT) candidate, Fernando Haddad, in a winner-takes-all second round on 28 October.

“You do have a very important election coming up in three weeks’ time. So at some point you are going to have to decide who you want your next president to be,” Waters told his 45,000-strong crowd towards the end of Tuesday’s show.

“I know it’s none of my business – except that, by and large, I am against the resurgence of fascism all over the world,” the musician added, to a mix of cheers and jeers.

“And as a believer in human rights – and that includes the right to peaceful protest under the law – I would prefer not to live under the rules of someone who believes military dictatorship is a good thing.

“I remember the bad old days in South America – with the juntas of the military dictatorships – and it was ugly,” concluded Waters, 75.

Waters took an even clearer swipe at Bolsonaro at another moment in the show, projecting his name on to a screen above the stage alongside those of Trump, Farage, Orbán and Marine Le Pen with the warning: “Neo-fascism is on the rise.”

The phrase #EleNão (#NotHim) – the rallying cry for Brazil’s anti-Bolsonaro movement – was also reportedly displayed.

Waters’ intervention laid bare the bitter political divide that has split Brazil before what many call the most important election in its history.

While part of the crowd reportedly cheered the performer’s attack on Bolsonaro, others reacted furiously, chanting: “Fora PT” or “Workers’ party out!”

According to one Brazilian reporter, the “words of kindness” showered on the British performer included: “Go fuck yourself in the arse”, “Son of a bitch” and “babaca” (“twat”).

One video posted on YouTube, shows Bolsonaro supporters chanting their candidate’s nickname “Legend! Legend!” and one yelling at Waters: “Go fuck yourself, you idiot!”

Waters will have other opportunities to pillory the Brazilian populist in the coming weeks. Between now and the second-round vote he is set to perform in Brasília, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, the southern city where former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is imprisoned on controversial corruption charges.


Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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