One of the media darlings of Brazil’s eccentric presidential race is a buff, bible-thumping reserve fireman who barely registers in the polls and insists God wants him to win.
Introducing Cabo Daciolo, who calls himself a messenger from heaven, says he wants to expel Satan from Congress and, with the campaign for the October 7 vote in the home stretch, has chosen to go on a religious retreat in the mountains for three weeks.
Up there on high, the Rio native says he is fasting and praying for the recovery of the frontrunner in the race, of all people: rightwinger Jair Bolsonaro, who was stabbed two weeks ago while campaigning. The two men are close, personally and ideologically.
Bolsonaro finds himself out front with the most popular presidential hopeful, former president and leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in jail for corruption and disqualified from running.
Yes, it has been that kind of race.
Daciolo rarely appears in public, relying instead on social media. On Facebook he has 264,000 followers.
He likes to begin talks to his disciples with a rousing shout of “Glory be to God.”
“I am not a politician. I am an envoy from God,” Daciolo, a handsome 42- year-old with an athletic build, said once on Instagram.
“Everyone says, ‘Daciolo, you are crazy to jump into this campaign,'” he told the magazine Epoca. “With people, my chances are less than 0.001 percent. But with God they are 100 percent.”
– Fasting and prayer –
His wife Cristiane downplayed the fact that her husband has gone away to a mountain peak with the election just two weeks away. His campaign is red hot on social media, she told AFP.
“He believes the race will be won with fasting and prayer,” his wife said.
It took Daciolo eight hours to reach the top of the mountain he chose to climb west of Rio with a group of firefighters and evangelical ministers.
He spoke at length September 12 on Facebook, standing by a campfire at night and dressed like a lumberjack.
“I am the next president of the republic,” he shouted, while jumping up and down and holding a copy of the New Testament.
Brazil’s political elite are linked to the Masons and the system has been corrupted by wealthy elites, Daciolo exclaimed.
The way to fight crime is to have drug traffickers read the bible, he added.
The photo on his Instagram profile showing him resting in a hammock has drawn scathing criticism.
“That candidate is mentally deranged. Do you think that politics is won with this kind of madness,?” one comment reads.
“Does this man have a political platform? What is he going to do about health care, education, retirees, crime?” says another.
– Week of prayer –
Daciolo says he was not always so pious. “I drank a lot. I chased women,” he told Epoca.
He says he first joined a religious denomination founded by a surfer, with an altar in the shape of surf board.
Daciolo first became well known by leading a firefighters’ strike in Rio in 2011. He spent nine days in jail.
Later he became a lawmaker for the leftist PSOL party, which expelled him in 2015 because he wanted to change the wording of the constitution from “all power comes from the people” to “all power comes from God.”
He ended up in a party called Patriot, which accepted him because it failed to woo Bolsonaro as its presidential candidate.
Daciolo, the son of a colonel, shares ideological affinity with Bolsonaro, a former captain.
Bolsonaro often evokes God but nothing like Daciolo, who read from the bible during a televised presidential debate. He also proposed a national week of prayer to start the year off well.