SAO PAULO, Oct 8 — Far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva went on the attack yesterday, trading accusations of drunkenness and eating human flesh as hostility escalated ahead of Brazil’s October 30 presidential runoff.

The already polarizing campaign veered deeper into negative territory as ex-president Lula (2003-2010) aired a campaign ad with excerpts from a 2016 interview Bolsonaro gave to The New York Times in which he talked about participating in supposed cannibalism.

Describing a planned visit to a Yanomami Indigenous community, then-congressman Bolsonaro said in the interview that a villager had recently died.

“They cook them for two or three days and eat them with bananas. I wanted to see the Indian being cooked. They told me, ‘If you go, you’ll have to eat him.’ Well, I’ll eat him!” Bolsonaro said.

A spokesman for the Yanomami people, Junior Hekurari, denied in statements to local media that the group practices cannibalism.

But the video had gone viral on social networks in recent days — and Lula’s campaign pounced, keen to hold off Bolsonaro after he won a better-than-expected 43 per cent of the vote, to 48 per cent for Lula in Sunday’s first-round election.

“It’s monstrous. Bolsonaro reveals he would eat human flesh,” a narrator says in the campaign ad.

After several days striking a moderate tone in an apparent bid to appeal to moderate voters, Bolsonaro also escalated his rhetoric, calling Lula a “drunk” in a ranting news conference.

“Is that what we want, a guy who’s going to send money overseas to finance dictatorships like Venezuela?” Bolsonaro said at the presidential palace in Brasilia, shouting into a lectern full of microphones.

“He’s going to bring in a gang of incompetents to run Brazil… Our freedom’s at stake.”

Lula leads the runoff race with 53 per cent of valid votes to 47 per cent for Bolsonaro, according to pollsters Datafolha.

Another poll released Wednesday by the Ipec institute gave Lula 55 per cent to 45 per cent for Bolsonaro.

Polling firms are under attack from Bolsonaro’s camp, however, after underestimating his showing in the first round.

“We beat the lie,” the far-right incumbent said Sunday night, referring to polls that had put Lula’s lead in the double digits. — AFP