Brazil: The distance between Nicaragua and Brazil's capital cities, where a controversial presidential race is taking place, is more than 4,000 km, as well as a gap of ideologies.
But because of the efforts of the far-right current Jair Bolsonaro to use Daniel Ortega's authoritarian action on the Catholic Church to attack his leftist rival, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Central American nation found itself in the electoral debate. found in the centre. in Brazil.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly brought up Ortega's anti-clergy campaign in the lead-up to Brazil's October 2 election, in an effort to convince voters who believe in God that Lula's return to power will result in similar persecution.
At the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Bolsonaro made his point, saying: "I want to announce that Brazil will open its doors to receive Catholic priests and nuns facing persecution under the dictatorial regime in Nicaragua."
Bolsonarians' claim that Lula, a moderate two-term president from 2003 to 2010 who had positive relations with both Catholic and Protestant leaders, would close churches and imprison clergy is considered absurd by experts.
There is no evidence from his administration that he will ever act like the dictators of Nicaragua and Venezuela. Steven Levitsky, a Harvard University expert on Latin America and author of How Democracies Die, called the argument "ridiculous."
"Do these people really think that Lula, who ruled Brazil for eight years, would suddenly turn Brazil into Nicaragua?" Levitsky questioned. "Maybe, but I don't believe they are so simple-minded. They may be saying that only to endorse or legalize authoritarian behavior, in my opinion.
Despite the claim being false, Bolsonaro and his supporters continue to promote it, in an effort to win over the predominantly evangelical electorate, who make up about a third of Brazil's 156 million voters.
Bolsonaro was recently seen in a television interview with the word Nicaraguan written on the palm of his hand.
His political sons Eduardo and Flavio Bolsonaro have been warning their millions of followers on social media about the perceived danger of a future like Nicaragua under Lula. Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro tweeted last month, "If Jair Bolsonaro leaves power, Brazil will not become Argentina or Venezuela - it will go straight to Nicaragua."
Don't forget, Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator from Rio, wrote, "He is a friend of Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua." "See what he's doing with pastors and nuns on Google."
Radical televangelist Silas Malafia, who went to London for the funeral of the Bolsonaro queen, shared on Twitter on Tuesday his aide's proposal to protect Nicaragua's oppressed clerics, saying Nicaragua was "backed by Lula. "
The militarization of Nicaragua is a repetition of Bolsonaro's 2018 campaign, in which he made hypothetical claims about what could happen if Lula's Workers' Party (PT) won the presidency.
By separating himself from Ortega, a former revolutionary turned authoritarian who has been in power continuously since 2007, and who won last year for the fourth time in a row, in what his opponents called a sham election, Lula countered Bolsonaro's attacks. have tried to do.
After six months of crackdown on Nicaraguan protests that saw all of the former rebel's major rivals imprisoned or forced into exile, Ortega was reelected.
Ten years have passed since my last conversation with Nicaragua. What is happening in Nicaragua is unknown to me. However, I hear that things are not going well," Lula said last year, pleading with Ortega to "not give up on democracy."
Since his first six presidential campaigns in 1989, Lula has been the target of baseless allegations that he would defame Christianity.
More than three decades later, social media has fueled such a sinister strategy. On Twitter and Facebook, Bolsonaro and his three sons have about 16 million users combined.
However, Lula launches a charm offensive to reassure the Brazilian Christians, so it appears that the scare tactics are not working as they had hoped.
At a rally of evangelical supporters earlier this month, Lula said, "I don't think anyone has ever cared for and ensured the freedom to open churches and practice their faith like I did. "
Support for Lula is actually rising among Catholic voters, rising from 52% to 53%, according to polling results this week from pollster Ipec. Evangelicals continue to support Bolsonaro, of whom 48% have endorsed him for the presidency. However, this week, Lula's evangelical vote share increased from 31% to 32%. Overall, with less than two weeks leading up to the election, the Left claims a 16-point lead over Bolsonaro.