SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of motor bikers followed Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday from Sao Paulo to the neighboring city of Americana along a 60-mile (100-km) rally.
“This is a fantastic turnout,” the president, wearing a black leather jacket, said as he greeted followers at the event, streamed on social media.
Bolsonaro has mobilized motorcycle-riding supporters as he campaigns for re-election in October when he is expected to face former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is leading in opinion polls.
Bolsonaro has promised motor bikers he will end tolls for them on federal roads.
Among those riding a bike in the rally was former Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas, who resigned to run for governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, as Bolsonaro’s candidate.
Lula’s Workers Party (PT) has complained to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) that Bolsonaro’s motorcades are illegal propaganda because election campaigning only starts officially on Aug. 15 and the president should be fined.
Organizers of the motorcade described the rally as a religious event called “Accelerate for Christ” and announced it in a video on social media as “The Apocalypse of motor bikes” saying it would be the biggest ever.
The Sao Paulo government’s public security office did not have a number for the turnout of motor cyclists, but said it cost the taxpayer 1 million reais ($212,900) for the deployment of police officers, vehicles and drones to keep it safe and orderly.
(Reporting by Carla Carniel and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)