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Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Anthony Garotinho: Evangelical 'sniper'
Socialist Party candidate Anthony Garotinho
Garotinho is a natural campaigner
Anthony Garotinho of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) is a former radio show host and committed Christian.

His fierce attacks on his campaign rivals have earned him the nickname of "the sniper".

Born Anthony William Matheus de Oliveira in 1960, he changed his name legally to Garotinho - which means "Little Boy" - after it brought him success in his early career as a football commentator.


I am a servant of the Lord Jesus, saved by him for an eternal life of peace, joy and love

Anthony Garotinho

The job made him a natural media performer, but the hallmark of Mr Garotinho's style dates from his overnight conversion from Marxism following a car crash in 1994.

As he recovered from life-threatening injuries in hospital, Mr Garotinho says he saw a slow-motion "vision" of the accident and felt a hot sensation which he believes was Christ burning away his sins.

He went on to become an evangelical preacher and his speeches have acquired a messianic tone reminiscent of the pulpit.

"People's restaurants"

Mr Garotinho developed his career in Rio de Janeiro state, where his combination of charisma and eye-grabbing policy initiatives has long been popular.

Elected governor in 1998, Mr Garotinho targeted the poor by providing cut price meals at so-called "people's restaurants", building 35,000 affordable homes and giving badly-off families a monthly "citizen's cheque".

At the same time, he balanced the books and renegotiated Rio's debt.

The approach won him high approval ratings, but his time in office was marked by allegations of serious corruption and wrangles with his then coalition partners.

Ending droughts

Mr Garotinho's manifesto attempts to extend his winning formula in Rio to national level. It includes similar ideas, such as raising the minimum wage and cutting taxes.

But the most original pledge is to stop the droughts in the poverty-stricken north east of the country.

Garotinho visiting a Brazilian factory
Garotinho is a champion of the working class

Mr Garotinho wants the national oil company Petrobras to build a series of wells to pump water out from under the soil and end the almost annual problem for good.

However, despite his "sniping", Garotinho's popularity currently goes no further than Rio and evangelical voters.

He has been unable to pass the 12% mark in opinion polls.

And his main contribution to the election is likely to be deciding which candidate to urge his supporters to back in the second round.

This profile is from BBC Monitoring, which is based in Caversham in southern England and selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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