"I've never seen this type of fascist behavior as I'm seeing here," said former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The campaign caravan of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva was met with protest and threats of violence from opposition supporters as it journeyed into southern state of Rio Grande do Sul Friday.
The protesters burned tires, hurled rock, and used vehicles in an attempt to block the caravan from proceeding along its scheduled path and eventually lead to Lula and his supporters canceling a visit to the city of Passo Fundo after local law enforcement officials failed to guarantee their safety.
Following the incident, members of the Workers' Party based in the state wrote: "Even after receiving official alerts beforehand concerning violence planned against the caravan, the government of Rio Grande do Sul did not impede groups from forming, nor mobilized the necessary police force to contain the aggressors.
"The Military Brigade simply declared that they were incapable of guaranteeing the physical integrity of former president Lula, former president Dilma Rousseff, who was accompanying him, and other members of the caravan."
Having faced similar incidents in another part of Rio Grande do Sul - including one where a Workers' Party supporter was beaten with a bullwhip - Lula said: "I've been a union leader since 1969... I've been a candidate for state governor. I've been defeated as a presidential candidate three times. I was victorious twice. We elected Dilma twice. I've never witnessed the type of violence taking place in Brazil nowadays. All types of violence... I've never seen this type of fascist behavior as I'm seeing here."
Lula has so far topped every presidential election poll, including those conducted by Datafolha, Vox Populi, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos.
His two terms in office were marked by a slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map.
One of his most successful programs is Family Allowance (Bolsa Familia). Launched in 2003, it provided stipends to families living below the poverty line. In turn, those families must prove their children are attending school and have been vaccinated.