El presidente brasileño, Jair Bolsonaro, and his allies could be preparing to mount a military coup in Brazil, according to an influential group of former presidents, prime ministers and leading public figures on the left.
An open letter claims rallies that Bolsonaro followers are staging on Tuesday represent a danger to democracy and amount to an insurrection modelled on Donald Trump supporters’ attack on the US Capitol on 6 enero.
They assert the nationwide marches by Bolsonaro supporters against the supreme court and Congress, involving white supremacist groups, military police, and public officials at every level of government, are “stoking fears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy”.
Signatories include José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish former prime minister, Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, Jeremy Corbyn, the former UK Labour leader, Fernando Lugo, the former Paraguayan president, Caroline Lucas, the British Green MP, and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Argentine Nobel laureate and human rights activist.
They point out that on 10 agosto, Bolsonaro “directed an unprecedented military parade through the capital city of Brasília, as his allies in Congress pushed sweeping reforms to the country’s electoral system that he says are critical before the presidential elections next year”.
The president himself said on 21 August that the marches were preparation for a “necessary countercoup” against Congress and the supreme court. His message claimed that Brazil’s “communist constitution” had taken away his power, and accused “the judiciary, the left, and a whole apparatus of hidden interests” of conspiring against him.
The open letter warns: “Members of Congress in Brazil have warned that the 7 September mobilisation has been modelled on the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 enero 2021, when then-president Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to ‘stop the steal’ with false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.
“We are gravely concerned about the imminent threat to Brazil’s democratic institutions – and we stand vigilant to defend them ahead of 7 September and after. The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule. Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now.”
Other signatories include Ernesto Samper Pizano, a former president of Colombia, Cori Bush, a US Democrat House of Representatives member, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the French presidential candidate and Manon Aubry, the French MEP.
Más que 5,000 police officers will reportedly be deployed to protect Congress amid fears that it could suffer the same fate as the US Capitol after Trump’s defeat. Leftist leaders have urged their followers to avoid clashes by not holding counterprotests, while the US embassy has told citizens to steer clear.
El jueves, the chief justice of Brazil’s supreme court, Luiz Fux, said people should be aware of the “judicial consequences of their acts”, whatever their political leanings. “Freedom of expression does not entail violence and threats,” Fux warned.
Polls show 60% of voters will not vote for Bolsanaro in any circumstances in next year’s elections with voters furious at his chaotic handling of the Covid crisis.