Correspondent in Sao Paulo
The streets of the main Brazilian cities woke up populated by followers of the president Jair Bolsonaro, raising Brazilian flags and dressed in the national colors, on the day the country celebrates the 199th anniversary of the declaration of its independence. Extremist militants attend the president’s call to show strength in the face of polls, which show their low popularity and possible defeat in the 2022 presidential election.
A poll released Monday by the Political Atlas institute shows that the rejection against the president reaches 64%, and that Bolsonaro would be defeated in the elections for all possible opponents, the main one being the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The survey also shows that 19% of Brazilians support the September 7 marches in their favor, which is equivalent to some 29 million people.
For Andrei Roman, director of the Atlas institute, Bolsonaro still has strong support to show his political strength in these demonstrations, with images of crowds that support him, despite his wear, the criticism of public opinion and the clashes with congressmen and court judges Supreme
The Supreme Court, by the way, has been one of the powers most attacked by Bolsonaro and his protesters. On banners and t-shirts, the Bolsonaristas call for “military intervention” and the closure of parliament and the Supreme Court. On Monday night, hundreds of ultra-rightists broke the police blockade and entered with trucks in the area where Congress and the Foreign Ministry are concentrated, arriving near the headquarters of the highest court.
Security was reinforced, especially in front of the headquarters of the Judiciary, to prevent scenes such as the invasion of the Capitol, starring followers of Donald Trump in january. Leaders of the international left, including former presidents, congressmen and ministers from 26 countries, signed a letter criticizing Bolsonaro for encouraging violence against democratic institutions.
“Bolsonaro and his government have threatened – several times – to cancel the presidential elections of 2022 if Congress does not approve their reforms,” says the letter signed by the prime minister. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, by the former president of Colombia Ernesto Samper, the linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, and the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, among others.
Against Supreme Court and Congress
On Monday, the eve of the marches, Bolsonaro signed a decree to guarantee “freedom of expression on social networks” and prohibit companies such as Google, Twitter and Facebook from deleting content and profiles “arbitrarily”.
The measure prevents these companies from preventing the spread of false news and blocking users, including the Brazilian president himself and his children, who they have already been suspended of these networks in response to false posts or incitement of violence. The decree, which has already entered into force, alters the Civil Framework of the Internet, approved by Congress in 2014, after seven years of discussion.
The publication of false news, the incitement of violence and the attacks on democratic institutions have been the main arguments for the arrest and for the opening of investigation processes of ultra-rightists, including Bolsonaro himself.
This week, the Supreme Court Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, ordered two preventive prisons to guarantee public order during the demonstrations. A Bolsonaro supporter was arrested in Santa Catarina for threatening the judge with death on a social network and asking for his head “dead or alive.” Moraes also temporarily blocked the accounts of individuals and organizations that finance the anti-democratic marches.
Moraes, who is in charge of the investigation into the massive dissemination of false news and attacks against democratic institutions on the internet, is one of the main targets of the Bolsonaristas, as well as the president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal, Roberto Barroso, which is under attack for defending the electronic ballot box, the successful Brazilian voting system, considered fraud-proof and internationally respected.
By perceiving the risk of losing reelection, Bolsonaro has encouraged his followers to defend the printed vote, ensuring that the electronic ballot box is not reliable. According to Bolsonaro, the digital vote, who elected him three years ago, does not work and has already threatened not to be a candidate if the vote is not again through paper, as before 1996.