WASHINGTON, July 27 — Brazilian non-governmental groups yesterday met US policymakers to urge a swift recognition of the winner in October 2 elections as President Jair Bolsonaro tries to cast doubt on the voting system.

A delegation of 19 civil society groups held talks at the State Department and with members of Congress, saying they warned of threats to democracy by the far-right incumbent president.

“International attention is critical at this time,” said Paulo Abrao, executive director of the Washington Brazil Office which organised the visit.

“We want to inform foreign authorities about the reality of the electoral process from the point of view of civil society so that they are not at the mercy of what the executive branch says,” she said.

In a statement, the NGOs called on the United States to “immediately recognise the outcome” of the election as soon as official results come out.

Flavia Pellegrino of Pacto Pela Democracia, or Pact for Democracy, one of the groups represented, said that Brazil faced a threat from “an authoritarian ruler who has been undermining institutions from within.” “This isn’t bravado or speculation — a coup-like movement is underway in Brazil. We want the election to be recognised and respected, whoever wins,” she said.

The State Department confirmed the meeting and described it as routine, saying US diplomats regularly meet civil society members from around the world.

“Brazil has a strong track record of free and fair elections, with transparency and high levels of voter participation,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Implicitly rejecting Bolsonaro’s fraud claims, the spokesperson said: “We are confident Brazil’s 2022 election will reflect the will of the electorate.”

Bolsonaro is trailing in polls to former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist icon who was jailed on a controversial corruption conviction.

Bolsonaro was one of the closest international allies of former US president Donald Trump and has spoken favourably about the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Appearing to take a page from Trump’s playbook, Bolsonaro opened his campaign on Sunday with a fiery speech in which he warned of electoral irregularities and his supporters chanted for Lula’s imprisonment. — AFP