Brazilians are expected to march en masse on Tuesday in solidarity with embattled President Jair Bolsonaro, with some Brazilian officials and left-wing figures sounding the alarm on the independence day rallies.
What do we know about the demonstrations?
Security has been ramped up in the country’s capital, Brasilia, where Bolsonaro will speak in the morning. The Brazilian leader will then address his supporters in downtown Sao Paulo later in the day.
The Brazilian leader is hoping the rallies will help him garner support ahead of crucial presidential elections next year. Recent polls show him losing handily against former left-wing President Lula Inacio Lula da Silva, or Lula.
Counter-demonstrations against Bolsonaro are also planned. Lula is expected to give an address on social media later on Tuesday, with the former president having referred to Bolsonaro as a “psychopath.”
Further anti-Bolsonaro protests are scheduled for Sunday. Demonstrators have previously called for Bolsonaro’s impeachment due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted indigenous people and Afro-Brazilians.
Bolsonaro has been targeted by critics for his perceived mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, corruption, anti-environmental policies and attacks on the judiciary, among other factors.
Global left-wing figures warn of ‘coup’
More than 150 global left-wing figures, including former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, endorsed an open letter on Monday, warning Bolsonaro is planning a military coup ahead of next year’s elections.
The figures said nationwide demonstrations by Bolsonaro supporters and the intimidation of public officials are “stoking fears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy.”
The letter claimed the September 7 marches are “modeled on the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, where then-President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to ‘stop the steal’ with false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked Brazil’s Supreme Court and claimed the country’s electronic voting system is susceptible to fraud.
A Supreme Court justice has ruled in favor of an investigation into Bolsonaro over the fraud claims.
Military police expected to march despite ban
Several Brazilian governors have also raised concerns about military police taking part in the marches.
The police are banned from taking part in political protests, but officers may participate in the pro-Bolsonaro rallies in defiance of the rules.
If Bolsonaro loses next year’s elections, there are fears that police officers may go on strike, exacerbating Brazil’s crime problem and making the management of states impossible for governors.
Bolsonaro has claimed the protests will not be violent. Financial firms and industry groups have called for peace during the independence day marches.
Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on an anti-corruption and tough-on-crime platform.
The Brazilian leader has previously made homophobic and sexist comments and expressed reverence for the country’s two-decade long military dictatorship.
wd/rs (Reuters, dpa)