Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Lula face off in last debate before vote
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took a hard line on immigration during his first debate, saying Monday that the country needed to send 3 million immigrants a year to fill vacancies in Brazilian jobs. And he defended his position on criminal-justice reform as he faces an onslaught from left-wing leader lower House Speaker Paulo Pimenta, who wants to reduce the prison population to 30,000, down from the more than 400,000 inmates, most of them drug addicts.
“In one month we have got almost 30,000 people locked up in prisons that could have been in prison three or four years ago,” Bolsonaro said.
On the second day of debate, Bolsonaro came under attack from Pimenta, who said the president was proposing “policies that would increase crime” and “corrupt the country.” Bolsonaro, for his part, said that prison overcrowding was a public-policy problem but that its cost to taxpayers should be considered.
Bolsonaro’s supporters applauded when he went after Pimenta over crime, but there were audible gasps when he said that most people would agree with keeping the prison population at 30,000 people.
Bolsonaro said that even he would agree with that if he was one of the “20 percent of the families that would be forced to pay for a prison of this size.”
Pimenta, who is from Brazil’s most powerful left-wing party, said that the federal prisons should be closer to the middle class because the wealthy who have the money to pay for a private prison are not the ones committing crimes.
“We have to think about this. We have to talk about the fact that we will have 30 people in prison for every one who is a criminal,” he said.
Ahead of the second debate, Bolsonaro has tried to avoid controversy. He is facing a backlash after tweeting that he is in self-quarantine after a visitor who had tested positive for the coronavirus was allowed in during his presidency.
It’s also the first time that Pimenta has been in the second debate, which took place