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Brazilian voters wear loyalty on their sleeves

Photo: Sergio Lima / AFP

AFP

Brazilians wore their loyalty on their sleeves, literally, as they turned out in large numbers Sunday dressed to flaunt their political preference in a polarized presidential election.

Many were decked out from head to toe in the red of leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party, others in the yellow-and-green Brazilian colors far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has claimed as his own.

It is a reflection of the tribalized nature of Brazilian politics, and made for colorful scenes at voting stations in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia with bandanas, flags, shirts, stickers, even lipstick and colored sunglasses chosen to match a voter’s political leaning.

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“There is no secret vote… it’s all in plain sight,” Debora Mattos, 45, told AFP after casting her vote near Rio’s famous Copacabana tourist beach.

She wore a T-shirt with an image of the Brazilian flag; a white top with the words “Bolsonaro president” and the incumbent’s face tied around her waist.

Brazilian law allows individual voters to wear clothing or paraphernalia advertising their political allegiance, as long as they do not distribute party political material or engage in campaigning.

As red- and yellow-clad voters mixed in thousands of voting queues around Latin America’s biggest democracy, there were no reports of disagreements half-way into the eight hours of voting.

Bolsonaro himself voted in Rio de Janeiro in a T-shirt of yellow and green.

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Lula opted for a more statesmanly look: casting his ballot in Sao Paulo state in a dark suit and a blue button-up shirt.

Unlike Bolsonaro, who had urged his supporters to turn out in the national colors as he had, Lula told his fans to come any which way they liked. Just come.

In the capital, Brasilia, 32-year-old policeman Andre Ribeiro took the bold step of draping himself in a Worker’s Party flag in a Bolsonaro-majority area where he was a red speck in a sea of yellow and green.

He complained of followers of Bolsonaro “stealing” the national colors.

At a polling station in Rio, Marcio Lessa, 59, opted for white.

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“I’m afraid of being attacked,” he told AFP, flashing an “L” with his right thumb and forefinger while silently mouthing “Lula.”

Some chose their outfit to make a different point: about unity.

One of them, 32-year-old Juliana Trevisan, 32, wore a green-and-yellow shirt… with Lula’s image, voting in Rio.

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  • People queue to vote during the legislative and presidential election, in Brasilia, Brazil, on October 2, 2022. - Voting began early Sunday in South America's biggest economy, plagued by gaping inequalities and violence, where voters ar expected to choose between far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, any of which must garner 50 percent of valid votes, plus one, to win in the first round. (Photo by Sergio Lima / AFP)

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International

Food prices send hunger soaring in Latin America: UN agencies

Photo: AP News

| By AFP |

Rising food prices in Latin America and the Caribbean caused the number of people going hungry in the region to rise by more than 13 million between 2019 and 2021, a United Nations report said Tuesday.

The report by three UN agencies said the region was particularly vulnerable to the global food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine due to a high reliance on wheat, maize and fertilizer imports.

“The number of people in the region suffering from hunger increased by 13.2 million to 56.5 million,” read the report, released at a press conference in Santiago, Chile.

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In addition, moderate or severe food insecurity affected 267.7 million people — 40.6 percent of the region’s population — in 2021. 

This is “far above the world average” of 29.3 percent, said the report.

“The rise in food inflation and extreme poverty is one of the factors behind the increase in food insecurity and hunger,” said the report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the FAO, food insecurity refers to a lack of regular access to healthy and nutritious food.

“The heavy reliance on imported fertilizers, and fluctuating food prices, have an unavoidable negative impact on livelihoods — mainly of the rural population — and access to healthy food,” said Mario Lubetkin, FAO Assistant Director-General.

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International

Colombia landslide kills 34

Photo: AFP

| By AFP |

Heavy rains in northwest Colombia sent a wall of earth crashing onto a winding road, swallowing up a bus and other vehicles and killing 34 people, emergency services said Monday.

The landslide Sunday evening prompted a large rescue effort, with dozens of people in hard hats using backhoes and excavators to dig through the earth looking for victims.

The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said the fatalities included eight minors and that nine other people were injured in the disaster in the remote town of Pueblo Rico.

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The bus had set out from the city of Cali with 25 passengers, and traveled 270 kilometers (170 miles) before being hit by the landslide as it passed through the Andes mountain region, civil defense officials said.

Colombian media reported that a child had survived and was pulled from the arms of its mother, who did not make it.

One survivor said the bus driver had at first managed to dodge the worst of the landslide.

“Part of it was coming down and the bus was a little bit back from that. The bus driver was backing up when it all came crashing down,” Andres Ibarguen told radio station Lloro Stereo.

The rainy season that began in August is Colombia’s worst in 40 years, according to the government, causing accidents that have left more than 270 people dead.

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The country has declared a national disaster over the rains linked to the exceptionally long La Nina weather phenomenon, which cools surface temperatures and is currently causing drought and flooding around the globe.

Today, the landslide “puts this town in mourning, tomorrow it could be in another area, because we really have many unstable areas in the country, and the rainy season has not ended,” said Javier Pava of the UNGRD.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization said last week the La Nina conditions could last until February or March 2023.

In Colombia, the phenomenon has also caused crop damage, compromising food supplies and leading to soaring prices.

In July, three children were killed in northwestern Colombia when a landslide buried a rural school. In February, 14 people died in a mudslide triggered by heavy rains in central-western Risaralda province.

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International

At least 27 killed in Colombia landslide: president

Photo: AFP

| By AFP |

At least 27 people were killed when a landslide engulfed a road in northwest Colombia, trapping people in a bus and other vehicles, said President Gustavo Petro on Monday.

“It is with sadness that I must announce that, so far, 27 people, including three minors, have lost their lives in the tragedy” that struck on Sunday in a remote area of the Pueblo Rico municipality, Petro wrote on Twitter.

On Sunday evening, the president reported three dead, as dozens of rescue workers searched for survivors.

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One survivor said the driver of the bus managed to dodge the worst of the landslide.

“Part of it was coming down and the bus was a little bit back from that. The bus driver was backing up when it all came crashing down,” Andres Ibarguen told radio station Lloro Stereo.

The bus had set out from the city of Cali with 25 passengers, civil defense officials said.

The rainy season that began in August is Colombia’s worst in 40 years, according to the government, causing accidents that have left more than 270 people dead.

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