Brazil: Tens of thousands support former president

Tens of thousands of supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro gathered in São Paulo, the country’s largest city, in a demonstration aimed at displaying strength against legal challenges that could potentially lead to his imprisonment. Bolsonaro, a far-right figure, organized the rally following a police raid earlier this month, which was part of an investigation into an alleged coup attempt.

During his approximately 20-minute speech at the rally, Bolsonaro defended himself without directly attacking the supreme court or other authorities. There were concerns among his allies that any remarks against Brazilian institutions could exacerbate his legal troubles. The former president is currently under investigation by federal police for his alleged involvement in the January 8, 2023, attacks on government buildings carried out by his supporters in protest of his election loss.

In addition to the investigation related to the attacks, Bolsonaro faces accusations of illegally receiving jewels from Saudi Arabia during his presidency. The rally in São Paulo aimed to show that Bolsonaro’s political base remains resilient despite these legal challenges.

Many of the supporters at the rally claimed that Bolsonaro was being unfairly persecuted by the supreme court and questioned the legitimacy of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s narrow victory in the 2022 election. Some demonstrators carried Israeli flags in defiance of the current president, who has faced criticism for comparing Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Bolsonaro, barred from running for office until 2030 due to two convictions of abuse of power, remains a prominent figure in Brazilian politics, serving as the primary adversary to the left-of-center Lula. As the mayoral elections approach, candidates have aligned themselves with either leader, reflecting the deep polarization in Brazilian politics.

The demonstration is seen as an effort by Bolsonaro to assert his political strength amid the ongoing investigations. Allies believe that the former president, though ineligible for office, remains a competitive force in Brazilian politics. The rally was attended by dozens of lawmakers, including some state governors, reinforcing Bolsonaro’s influence within right-wing political circles in the country.

The massive rally in São Paulo, led by tens of thousands of supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, showcased a display of strength against ongoing legal challenges that could potentially lead to his imprisonment. Bolsonaro, a far-right figure, organized the rally in response to a recent police raid linked to an investigation into an alleged coup attempt. During the event, Bolsonaro addressed his supporters, speaking for about 20 minutes and reflecting on his time in power.

In his speech, Bolsonaro avoided direct attacks on old adversaries and the supreme court, a strategic move to prevent further legal complications. Allies had expressed concerns before the rally that any remarks against Brazilian authorities or institutions might exacerbate the situation for Bolsonaro, who is already under investigation by federal police.

The former president faces scrutiny over his alleged involvement in the attacks on government buildings by his supporters on January 8, 2023, following his election loss. Bolsonaro is seeking pardons for the individuals still in jail for those incidents. Additionally, he is accused of illegally receiving jewels from Saudi Arabia during his presidency.

The rally, spanning six blocks of São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue, drew Bolsonaro supporters who voiced their belief that he is being unfairly targeted by Brazil’s supreme court. Many attendees also expressed dissatisfaction with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victory in the 2022 election. Some protesters carried Israeli flags as a symbolic gesture of defiance against the current president, who has faced criticism for his comments comparing Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust.

In his speech, Bolsonaro called for pacification and amnesty for those jailed in Brasília over the past incidents. He denied allegations of attempting a coup during the assault on government buildings, stating that a coup involves tanks on the streets, weapons, and conspiracy, none of which occurred in Brazil, according to him.

Bolsonaro, barred from running for office until 2030 due to abuse of power convictions, remains a prominent figure in Brazilian politics, particularly as the main adversary to left-of-center leader Lula. As the mayoral elections approach, candidates are aligning with either Bolsonaro or Lula, further intensifying the political polarization in Brazil. Allies hope that the rally’s demonstration of support will underline Bolsonaro’s continued political influence in the deeply divided country.

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