Far-right Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro took to the streets Sunday to attack Congress and the courts in a speech to hundreds of his supporters, mentioning once again the backing he continues to have with the armed forces.
“We have the armed forces at the people’s side: the side of order, democracy, liberty,” Bolsonaro said in a speech transmitted live on Facebook, underlining the former army captain’s increasing isolation as he downplays the impacts of the novel coronavirus on Latin America’s largest nation.
As in an April rally also attended by Bolsonaro, demonstrators on Sunday called for the closing of the Supreme Court and Congress, and a return to dictatorial measures used during Brazil’s 1964 to 1985 military regime; to which Bolsonaro and his vice president have publicly shared their admiration.
Yet the latest rally was carried out as the president faces widespread criticism from across the political spectrum for dismissing the threat of the virus in Brazil, which had registered 95,559 confirmed cases and 6,750 deaths as of Saturday evening.
On Sunday, dozens of public figures signed an open letter to the Brazilian government calling on officials to protect the nation’s indigenous people, who often live in remote locations with limited access to healthcare.
Also, this comes as the country is engulfed in a political scandal as Bolsonaro faces the most serious crisis of his mandate, after his closest ally former justice minister Sergio Moro, quit last week and accused the president of firing the federal police chief in a bid to appoint a personal ally to the post and obstruct graft probes targeting his sons.
On the day that Brazil reaches 100,000 cases, the president participates in a rally and expresses his support for those who ask for the closure of the legislative and judicial power.
Brazil’s Supreme Court blocked Bolsonaro’s pick for a new chief on Wednesday, enraging the president.
As Bolsonaro’s relationship with legislators and the courts continue to downgrade, he has become increasingly dependent on staffing his government with the active or former military.
Political leaders have called Bolsonaro’s participation in anti-democratic rallies irresponsible, especially as he has spoken approvingly of the nation’s military dictatorship, which was responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial executions.
The president has also advocated violence against journalists accusing them of publishing “fake news.” At the Sunday rally, at least three photographers were attacked by demonstrators, according to a Reuters witness.