Brazilians celebrate Independence Day amid fears Bolsonaro election loss could lead to unrest

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called Wednesday’s Independence Day an opportunity to celebrate the country’s proud history, but critics say he has turned what should have been a day of solidarity into a day of solidarity. a campaign event they fear he will use to sabotage next month’s elections in Latin America’s fourth-largest democracy.

Bolsonaro, who took to the polls ahead of the October 2 vote, has called on Brazilians to spill into the streets and tens of thousands of his supporters are expected to travel to Brasilia, São Paulo and his hometown. in Rio de Janeiro to show strength . The military has planned exhibitions in the capital and in Rio, with Bolsonaro in attendance.

The far-right nationalist has for many years been on a mission to encourage Brazilian patriotism and co-opted the colors green and yellow for his nation. He has aligned his administration with military officers and repeatedly sought their support, most recently to cast doubt on the reliability of the country’s electronic voting system.

His attacks on the voting system have raised concerns from opponents that he could follow in the footsteps of former US president Donald Trump in dismissing the election results.

“Bolsonaro and his supporters have built this day into the most important day of the entire campaign. So he’s going to have to provide some red meat,” said Brian Winter, vice president of operations. book of the American Association/Council, said. Americas. “But everyone wants to know if he’s going to cross that line and create a real institutional crisis.”

Supporters of Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva look out as Bolsonaro supporters gather ahead of a rally at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. (Ivan Pacheco/AFP/Getty Images)

After the military parade in Brasília, Bolsonaro will attend another exhibit in Rio along Copacabana beach, where his supporters often demonstrate. It will then include salutes with rifles, cannon firing, overpasses, paratroopers and warships moored offshore.

But Rio will not see what the president has announced will be a large parade instead of the annual nonpartisan event downtown. Instead, Rio’s mayor and military leaders settled on more modest displays at the beach designated by the president.

Attacks on judges, election system

Bolsonaro, a former army captain and lawmaker for decades before winning the 2018 presidential election, spent much of his first term with Supreme Court justices, a who are also top members of the electoral body.

He has accused several judges of obstructing his administration and favors former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is at the top of a poll seeking to return to the position he held from 2003 to 2010. That has turned those figures and their institutions into enemies of the grassroots Bolsonaro, which represents about a quarter of the electorate.

When Bolsonaro laid out his re-election strategy on July 24, he asked supporters to show support “one last time” on Independence Day. “The deaf people in black robes must understand what the voice of the people is,” he said, referring to the judges.

The National Guard will increase security outside the Supreme Court building on Wednesday, and police will search people at checkpoints around the promenade, where the military demonstration took place. and a demonstration afterwards.

Since his campaign began, Bolsonaro has softened his tone on Independence Day. In the southern city of Curitiba last week, he asked supporters to take down banners demanding a military coup. And in a TV program released Tuesday, he urged people to look forward every two years “with peace and harmony.”

Supporters wait for Bolsonaro to arrive to take part in a military parade in Brasilia on Wednesday. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)

Carlos Ranulfo de Melo, a political scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, said this may reflect a campaign strategy to avoid fiery rhetoric and instead focus on improving. economy.

But Rodrigo Prando, a political science professor at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, said he hopes Bolsonaro will fight the electronic voting system and the Supreme Court.

Political violence feared

The president is known for his outbursts of activism. At last year’s Independence Day rally, he pushed the country to the brink of an institutional crisis when he vowed to ignore rulings from a Supreme Court judge. He later stepped back, saying his comments came hot at this point, and that the simmering tension had dropped to smoldering levels.

There have been concerns about political violence. Some of his supporters tried to storm the Supreme Court last year. In July, a federal warden killed a local official from da Silva’s Workers’ Party as he celebrated his birthday, and witnesses said he shouted support for Bolsonaro before pulling the trigger.

The Estadão de S. Paulo newspaper, among others, reported on August 19 that military intelligence had identified the risk of extremist movements, supporting Bolsonaro’s attempt to infiltrate the celebrations of the second anniversary. once a year to disrupt and protect military intervention.

“There is a movement that tries to legitimize a coup if the results from the ballots do not satisfy the Bolsonaristas,” said Tai Nalon, co-founder of fact-checking agency AosFatos. “You didn’t have that in 2018.”

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