Portugal’s Far-Right Leader Faces Criticism Over Exchange with Migrant Worker

LISBON – Portugal’s far-right party Chega is facing accusations of manipulating a video that shows a migrant worker confronting its leader, Mr. Andre Ventura. Ventura has accused the worker of fabricating his story to discredit the party ahead of the European Union election.

Chega, an anti-immigration populist party, has become the third-largest political force in Portugal, having significantly increased its parliamentary presence in the March general election.

On June 6, Bangladeshi citizen Iqbal Hossain approached Mr. Ventura at an event to highlight the poor conditions many migrants face, especially Indonesians in the fishing industry. Hossain, visibly emotional, shared that he had sent his daughter back to Bangladesh due to the racism migrants often experience in Portugal.

The following day, Mr. Ventura took to social media, claiming that Mr. Hossain was “planted” at the campaign event and that his story was “fabricated.” Chega lawmakers shared a video of the exchange that differed from the one broadcast by news outlets.

SIC TV reported that the video Chega shared was manipulated, with footage taken out of context and subtitles altered to suggest that Hossain had lied about his nationality and job. Mr. Ventura labeled the journalists covering the story as “enemies of the people.”

Portugal is home to around 800,000 migrants, nearly double the number from a decade ago. Police data indicates that hate crimes have surged by 38 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year. Additionally, new nationalist groups have emerged.

Although far-right and conservative parties are expected to make gains in the June 6 to 9 European Parliament election, the latest poll shows Chega obtaining 12 percent of the vote, down from the 18.1 percent it received in the Portuguese election.

On June 3, Portugal’s government announced a new plan to toughen some migration rules, reflecting the rightward shift in European politics as governments attempt to counter the rise of far-right parties.