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Brazilians will head to the polls to elect a new president in 10 days. It's been a hard-fought campaign, and now an unlikely voice has joined the political fray, one of the founders of Pink Floyd. NPR's Philip Reeves has the story.
PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: We're outside a giant soccer stadium after dark. A big crowd is gathering. Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, is playing a gig here, in the city of Salvador in Northeast Brazil. Waters is 75. In music-mad Brazil, he has many fans who are a fraction of his age. Luana Camara (ph) is a student, age 24.
LUANA CAMARA: (Speaking Portuguese).
REEVES: "I grew up listening to Pink Floyd," she says. What's her favorite song?
CAMARA: (Speaking Portuguese).
REEVES: "It's a cliche," she says, "but I like "Another Brick In The Wall."" This crowd has come to be entertained, yet the show is about much more than music. Roger Waters is touring Brazil in the middle of a highly charged presidential election campaign. He's dived into the thick of things. One of his recent shows characterized the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as a neo-fascist. People among tonight's crowd want to know if Waters will do that again. Sandy Luciano (ph), a bank clerk who's 34, says if he does, that's fine by him.
SANDY LUCIANO: Very good that artists like him, they got the guts to speak about this, you know? We are now facing, all over the world, a very complicated time in politics, you know? And it's very important that famous artists like him, they can speak because Bolsonaro is a fascist.
REEVES: Many Brazilians resent outsiders interfering in their politics. Humberto Miranda (ph) is 54 and plans to vote for Bolsonaro. He acknowledges Waters is a political activist who campaigns on many fronts...
HUMBERTO MIRANDA: (Speaking Portuguese).
REEVES: ...But thinks in Brazil, Waters should be wary of broadcasting his opinions. Emotions are certainly running high. There's been a surge in election-related attacks. Agencia Publica, an investigative journalism group that tracks these, identified more than 70 in the first 10 days of this month. In this city, Salvador, a celebrated Afro-Brazilian musician, called Romualdo Rosario da Costa, was stabbed to death 10 days ago after an argument about politics in a bar. He supported Bolsonaro's rival from the Workers' Party.
Last month, Bolsonaro himself was stabbed and severely injured at a rally. Bolsonaro has said he doesn't want the vote of anyone involved in violence, yet his opponents blame him for fanning the flames, citing his record for sexist, homophobic and racist remarks.
Roger Waters begins the show. There are some old favorites. Then the famously anti-authoritarian song, "Another Brick In The Wall," begins. Waters has a group of kids dancing on stage with the band. When they lift their clothes to reveal T-shirts bearing the word resist, there's mayhem.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD SHOUTING)
REEVES: Many in the crowd are shouting, (speaking Portuguese), not him, the slogan that unites Bolsonaro's opponents. Yet others are booing and yelling disapproval. Later, a picture appears on the big screen of Romualdo da Costa, the stabbed musician from Salvador. Waters pays a tearful tribute. The reaction's the same. Roger Waters is clearly dividing opinion in Brazil, but in Salvador, his fans seem to approve of his mission. Many here seem quite happy to listen to Pink Floyd classics and Roger Waters' politics, including Ana Barbosa (ph), who's 31 and a lawyer.
ANA BARBOSA: (Speaking Portuguese).
REEVES: "He should take a stance," she says. "Isn't that what art is for?"
Philip Reeves, NPR News, Salvador.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL")
PINK FLOYD: (Singing) Hey. Teacher, leave them kids alone.
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