Jair Bolsonaro stopped governing a while back. In three years, his government has inaugurated a few local infrastructure projects and liberalized gun laws, which has led to a sharp increase in arms sales in a country that is already notoriously violent.
Apart from that, Brazil’s president has promoted the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest and mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed almost 600,000 people in the country so far.
Under his watch, society has become even more polarized and the country has witnessed the worst attacks on democracy since the 1988 constitution came into effect.
What’s left to do for someone who has nothing but disasters to show for his work? Someone whose poll ratings have plummeted because people are seeing poverty spread and prices increase? For Bolsonaro, the tactic is to find excuses, to blame others, to search for distractions and to lie.
There is no other way of interpreting the mass rallies that took place on Brazil’s recent Independence Day. He indicated that Brazilians could decide what they felt about him and his government by turning out en masse, and he even made indirect threats to stage a putsch.
He said if enough people turned up, it would be a clear indication that he had the support of the people. He also claimed that this would be a vote of no confidence in the Supreme Court, with which he is in a locked battle. He would have a mandate from the people to close down the court, and also Congress, he stated.
Brazil in the Grip of Collective Delirium
Bolsonaro thus put Brazil to the test for egomaniacal reasons. The fact that thousands of Brazilians should take to the street to call for a putsch on this day of all days is darkly ironic. It is a sign of the collective delirium that has Brazil in its grip.
For the president, the whole circus was largely about image. He called the rallies to show how much support he allegedly enjoys and so he could use the pictures of him amid thousands of fans to argue that the negative polls are wrong and that if he loses next year’s elections, it will be down to fraud.
Bolsonarism clearly has a distorted understanding of democracy, instead of a balance of three powers, the movement sees the president’s autocracy as superior to the legislature and the judiciary.
On Independence Day, Bolsonaro himself threatened the chief justices and told them that they had to play according to the rules of the constitution or else there would be consequences. Though, of course, he is the one who keeps breaking the rules.
It is not up to him to issue ultimatums to other constitutional bodies. On the contrary: The president should be kept in check by the judiciary and parliament. Therefore, at this point, impeachment proceedings ought to be initiated against Bolsonaro.
Followers of Bolsonarism Are Fanatical
It is difficult to assess how strong Bolsonarism still is in Brazil, but what is certain is that its followers are fanatical. As if murmuring a prayer, they constantly say that they stand for god, the nation and the family (as well as against communism, wherever it might be hiding).
They repeated this trinity on Independence Day as well: God, nation, family. But these are not political projects; they are open concepts. Brazil’s tragedy is that they have been hijacked by Bolsonarism, which has appropriated them to divide society.
Thus, the president can divert attention from his dismal record and pursue his real goal: To maintain power and protect himself from prosecution. Let us not forget that what triggered his anger was the Supreme Court’s actions against politicians and YouTubers sympathetic to him who had incited violence.
The judiciary is also investigating his sons for long-term corruption. The evidence against them is staggering and Bolsonaro himself is likely to be targeted by prosecutors at some stage.
Brazil’s president has literally declared himself to be the country’s god sent savior. It is no wonder that a man capable of such delusions could have instrumentalized the country’s Independence Day for his own personal advantage.
Brazil can only hope that Bolsonaro doesn’t continue to wreak more havoc during the rest of his term or that he is soon deposed.
Bolsonaro Supporters Rally on National Day
Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Brazil on Tuesday, September 7, in support of President Jair Bolsonaro. The Brazilian leader is facing an uphill battle for reelection next year.
What do we know so far about the rallies?
The pro-Bolsonaro marchers were repelled from entering the country’s Supreme Court in Brasilia. Bolsonaro has previously lashed out at Brazil’s Supreme Court after the legal body launched an investigation into his unfounded claims about voter fraud.
“From now on I won’t accept one or two people acting outside the constitution,” Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia. In a veiled threat to the country’s highest legal body, Bolsonaro said the court could “suffer what we don’t want.”
The Brazilian leader has called for one of the Supreme Court justices, Alexandre de Moraes, to be impeached by the Senate.
Bolsonaro later addressed thousands of supporters later in the day in São Paulo, the country’s most populated city.
The president tweeted a video on Twitter of the massive crowd on São Paulo’s famous Paulista Avenue.
During his São Paulo speech, Bolsonaro again attacked Supreme Court Justice de Moraes, and said he would no longer comply with his rulings. De Moraes will lead the country’s electoral tribunal next year after the voting.
“I want to tell those who want to make me unelectable in Brazil: Only God removes me from here,” Bolsonaro said.
“There are three options for me: be jailed, killed or victorious. I’m letting the scoundrels know: I’ll never be imprisoned!” he asserted.
Other notable protests took place in Rio de Janeiro and the northeastern city of Recife, according to posts on social media.
Bolsonaro has previously said the protests will be peaceful. The demonstrations are occurring during the country’s independence day from Portugal, with Bolsonaro having presided over a flag-raising ceremony and an air force flyover in Brazilian capital Brasília.
A group of over 150 left-wing figures, including former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, endorsed a letter on Monday claiming Bolsonaro and his supporters were orchestrating a coup in the world’s third-largest democracy.
Will Bolsonaro Lose to Lula?
Later on Tuesday, opposition protesters took to the streets, shouting “Get out, Bolsonaro!”
São Paulo public security officials estimated the turnout to be 140,000 for the pro-Bolsonaro rally and 15,000 for the counter-demonstration just a few miles away.
Former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro’s top political challenger, slammed the current president during a a social media address on Monday and vowed a new path forward for the country.
Recent polls show Lula handily beating Bolsonaro in the 2022 election. Lula has previously referred to Bolsonaro as a “psychopath.”
Bolsonaro, who assumed office in 2019, has been criticized for his perceived mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-environmental policies and corruption, among other issues.
The Brazilian leader has also made numerous homophobic and sexist comments, and expressed reverence for the country’s two-decade long military dictatorship.