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Boston-area Brazilians prepare to vote for the country’s president at Mass. polls

This story was translated into Portuguese; leia em português.

Many of the more than 37,000 Brazilian voters registered in Massachusetts are preparing to cast their ballots in the presidential election at Boston-area voting locations on Sunday.

Massachusetts is home to one of the largest Brazilian communities in the U.S. and historically residents here have voted for right-wing candidates back home.

This year’s presidential election is highly polarized in Brazil. Leftist candidate and former president Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva is polling ahead of the current, far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

“Bolsonaro won’t get 87% of the vote in Boston again. Clearly his support is down everywhere,” says Taylor Boas, an associate professor of political science at Boston University.

He says Bolsonaro will likely win among Boston-area voters, although Lula — as he is known by supporters —is a favorite in Brazil.

During the Bolsonaro administration, Brazil experienced the highest rate of COVID deaths per capita in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The economy also was hit hard during his tenure, with more than 33 million Brazilians now experiencing hunger. Deforestation rates in the Amazon forest also hit a record high.

Lula, meanwhile, hopes to regain voter trust after having been convicted of corruption and spending more than a year and half in jail.

Everett resident Tamires Viana, 34, is a mental health clinician and has lived in the U.S. for 15 years. She says she will vote for Bolsonaro because of his administration’s agenda promoting free trade, privatization and family values.

Others see hope in change. Bruno Cassimiro, 32, a restaurant general manager in Framingham, says he has always cared about politics. He transferred his voter registration to be able to vote outside Brazil after immigrating about a decade ago.

“I think this is one of the most important elections in our history, not only because of the presidential candidates but also because democracy and social values are at stake.”

Even while living abroad, he considers voting paramount.

“We leave Brazil, but Brazil doesn’t leave us," he said. "I love my country and I won’t stop wanting a better future for Brazil.”

<em><strong>Correction:</strong> This story was updated to clarify that there are more than 37,000 Brazilian voters registered in Massachusetts.</em>

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