Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, draws a crowd of tens of thousands at a rally showing their support.

Estimated read time 3 min read

Thousands of followers of ex-Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro gathered in the nation’s largest metropolis to demonstrate their support and oppose legal actions that may result in his imprisonment.

The ex-president from the far-right organized a gathering in São Paulo in response to a recent police investigation into an alleged coup plot. He spoke for approximately 20 minutes, defending himself and reflecting on his previous time as leader.

During his speech, he avoided criticizing past adversaries and the supreme court. Prior to the event, his allies expressed worry that any comments made against Brazilian authorities or institutions could further escalate the situation.

Bolsonaro is attempting to demonstrate the strength of his supporters as he faces an investigation by federal authorities for his suspected involvement in the January 8, 2023 assault on government buildings. He is advocating for the release of the many individuals who are currently incarcerated for their participation in these events.

It is alleged that Bolsonaro unlawfully obtained jewelry from Saudi Arabia while serving as president.

Jair Bolsonaro waves an Israeli flag as he greets supporters.View image in fullscreen

Six sections of Paulista Avenue in São Paulo were occupied by Bolsonaro followers, with a number of them claiming that he was facing persecution from Brazil’s supreme court. They also argued that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory in the 2022 election was unjust.

Several individuals also displayed Israeli flags as a means of resisting the current president, who has faced considerable backlash for equating Israel’s military operation in Gaza to the Holocaust.

In a speech while holding an Israeli flag, Bolsonaro expressed his desire for pacification and erasing of the past. He hopes to find a way for his country to live in peace and put an end to turmoil. He also called for amnesty for those currently imprisoned in Brasília, urging all 513 congressmen and 81 senators to pass a bill for justice in Brazil.

Bolsonaro refuted accusations that he and his followers staged a coup during the attack on government buildings one year ago.

“What exactly constitutes a coup? According to him, it involves tanks on the streets, weapons, and a conspiracy. However, none of that occurred in Brazil.”

Thousands turn out to São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue.

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Bolsonaro is currently ineligible to hold political office until 2030 due to two convictions for abuse of power. However, he continues to play a prominent role in Brazilian politics as the primary rival of left-leaning Lula. With the upcoming mayoral elections, candidates have aligned themselves with either Bolsonaro or Lula.

The allies anticipate that the protest on Sunday will demonstrate Bolsonaro’s continuing political power in a highly divided Brazil.

“He is not dead, he is competitive,” said congressman Marco Feliciano, a member of Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party, adding Brazil would “turn into chaos” if the former president were to be arrested.

Many legislators and several state governors were present at the gathering, including Tarcisio de Freitas, the current São Paulo governor and former infrastructure minister for Bolsonaro. De Freitas is viewed as a potential future leader in Brazil’s conservative political landscape.

According to a source close to Bolsonaro who spoke to Reuters, he is determined to demonstrate his power to the supreme court and maintain his political viability, even if it means facing arrest. The source drew a comparison to Lula, who was imprisoned for 580 days in 2018-2019 on corruption charges before having his conviction overturned.

This report includes contributions from Reuters and the Associated Press.


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