In Brazil, thousands of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro take to the streets amid a legal storm

Thousands of people gathered in Sao Paulo on Sunday in support of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been targeted by an investigation into an alleged “coup attempt”. In front of his supporters, he denounced his ineptitude.

Thousands of Brazilians rallied in Sao Paulo on Sunday, February 25, in support of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who denounced his ineptitude during the show of force.

“We cannot accept that any power can remove someone from the political scene, unless it is for a valid reason. We cannot imagine elections by disqualifying opponents,” he began in front of a crowd of his supporters.

The former president, wearing the yellow jersey of Brazil’s football team, a symbol appropriated by the Bolsonarianistas, was last year declared ineligible for impeachment until 2030.

Targeted by an investigation into a supposed “coup attempt” against incumbent leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prevent his election defeat in 2022, he once again denied any involvement.

“What is a rebellion? Tanks, weapons, plots in the streets. None of this happened in Brazil,” he added, apologizing to the “poor buggers jailed in Brasilia after vandalizing the places of power on January”. 8, 2023, a week after Lula’s inauguration.

He also called himself “persecuted” again in his speech. “I seek peace to erase the past and find a way to live in peace,” he affirmed.

Supporters defend ‘victims of persecution’

Dressed in Brazil’s colors of green and yellow, his supporters gathered en masse on Paulista Avenue, the emblematic artery of Latin America’s largest metropolis. Organizers expect around 500,000 people.

In the crowd, Wilson Aseka, who traveled nearly 700 kilometers from the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, is certain that “Bolsonaro is an honest person, a victim of persecution.” The 63-year-old man, with the Brazilian flag around his neck, believes that “it is important to support him, because he represents God, the homeland and the family”, the motto of the former president.

“Brazil is with him, we are not worried about other people, but about the fact that he represents us again,” said Giovanna Brunetta, a 36-year-old lawyer.

On February 8, Jair Bolsonaro was barred from leaving Brazil following a massive police operation that targeted several former close associates, including former ministers and high-ranking military personnel, that led to dozens of searches and arrests.

Jair Bolsonaro, who says he is the victim of “persecution,” remained silent Thursday in the face of federal police investigators who subpoenaed him over the affair. He followed the advice of his lawyers, who say they do not have access to certain documents in the file.

The former army captain is also the target of other investigations, particularly for suspicion of falsification of vaccination certificates against Covid-19 or alleged misuse of gifts from foreign countries, including jewelry offered by Saudi Arabia.

Municipal elections in October

Despite these scandals, Jair Bolsonaro is still considered the leader of the opposition, and remains respected by his supporters.

Although he was last year disqualified until 2030 for misinformation, the former president intends to use his influence to choose allies during municipal elections in October, which are still highly polarized in the country.

The presence of opposition political figures on Paulista Avenue, outside the rush of their supporters, should make it possible to gauge the extent of their support.

“If there is a lot of support, he will be able to say that the people are with him. Otherwise, he will lose all legitimacy,” said Andre Rosa, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia (UDF).

“On the 25th, I’m going to Brazil. That’s going to be huge!” Published on X (ex-Twitter) MP Bia Kicis, from Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party.

The demonstration is organized by Pastor Silas Malafia, who is very influential among millions of evangelical Brazilians, one of the cornerstones of the Bolsonaroist electoral base.

Israeli flag in the crowd

During his tenure, many demonstrations of support were marked by slogans against Brazilian institutions, particularly the Supreme Court.

It was this High Court judge, Alexandre de Moraes, who authorized the police operation as part of an investigation into the “attempted coup”.

On January 8, 2023, a week after Lula’s inauguration, thousands of his supporters vandalized places of power in Brasilia, including the Supreme Court.

Israeli flags also fly on Palista Avenue, in a sign of disagreement with comments by Lula, who last Sunday compared the Israeli offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust, provoking a diplomatic crisis with Israel. The former president himself hoisted the Israeli flag on a stage mounted on a truck.

with AFP


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