Brazil fears a coup as supporters of President Bolsonaro have called for the overthrow of democratic institutions. Today there are massive demonstrations. Members of Parliament fear something like the storming of the US Capitol and other Trump states.
“We, representatives and leaders from all over the world, are sounding the alarm. On September 7, 2021, an uprising threatens democracy.” These are the first sentences of an open letter signed Monday by more than 120 prominent figures, from the former presidents of Paraguay and Colombia to Nobel Peace Prize winners and European politicians such as Yanis Varoufakis and Jeremy Corbyn. The message was clear: Brazil, the world’s third largest democracy, should seriously consider a coup today.
“Currently, President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies – including groups of white supremacists, the military police, and officials at all levels of government – are preparing for a national march to the Supreme Court and Congress,” the letter read. The Brazilian people have fought against military rule for decades to secure their democracy. We must not allow Bolsonaro to take it from us now.”
The widely publicized pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations, which are taking place across Brazil today and coinciding with National Independence Day, have been raising tensions in the country for weeks. This is partly due to repeated calls from Bolsonaro supporters to overthrow democratic institutions, but mainly because the Brazilian president himself said of the demonstrations: “I believe we can change the fate of Brazil.”
An alternate path to power
Now, right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, who has been Brazil’s president since 2019, has not been a big fan of classic democratic institutions like elections or an independent judiciary. But since his popularity has waned, especially since the catastrophic Corona crisis in his country, his attacks have become more fierce. She has fallen far behind his leftist rival, former President Lula da Silva, in the polls.
In his speeches, he has hinted no less than twenty times this year to the possibility of fraud in the presidential election next October. He once suggested canceling it completely, and when a judge of Brazil’s Supreme Court launched an investigation into those baseless statements, Bolsonaro immediately requested impeachment proceedings for the man.
Bolsonaro’s constant references to impending election fraud appear to have been copied from former US President Donald Trump. It is precisely this parallel that many Brazilians hold their breath for today. Trump’s repeated attempts to halt the Democratic process ended on January 6 with thousands of supporters storming the Capitol, killing five and wounding dozens.
Dozens of concerned world leaders wrote in their open letter: “Brazilian MPs warn that the September 7 rally is similar to the January 6, 2021 uprising in Washington, DC.” They fear that Bolsonaro will realize that a second term as president through elections could prove difficult, so he is now looking for an alternative path to power. Add to this the fact that a large part of the military police have already announced that they will participate in the demonstrations and you understand why the word “coup” is used explicitly.
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