Updated February 26th, 2024 at 12:50 IST

Supporters of Bolsonaro Stage Massive Rally in São Paulo as Ex-Prez Denies Involvement in Coup Plot

Tens of thousands of supporters of Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro staged a demonstration in Brazil's biggest city – São Paulo.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Former President Jair Bolsonaro, center, addresses supporters during a rally in Sao Paulo., Brazil | Image:AP
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São Paulo – Tens of thousands of supporters of Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro staged a demonstration in Brazil's biggest city – São Paulo, against a legal challenge that has the potential to send him to jail. The far-right former President of the Latin American nation called the rally in São Paulo, moments after he denied allegations regarding his involvement in the coup plot that rocked Brazil in January last year. Addressing the charged-up crowd, the former Brazilian President spoke for about 20 minutes and went on to reminisce his time in power, The Guardian reported. The demonstration came a month after Bolsonaro was targeted by a police raid. 

Another interesting aspect of the Sunday demonstration was the fact that some of the demonstrators were carrying Israeli flags as a show of defiance to the South American nation's current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The Brazilian leader received major criticism at home for comparing Israel's military offensive in Gaza to the devastating Holocaust. “What I seek is pacification, it is erasing the past,” Bolsonaro said in a speech as he held an Israeli flag himself. “It is to seek a way for us to live in peace and stop being so jumpy. Amnesty for those poor people who are jailed in Brasília. We ask all 513 congressmen, 81 senators for a bill of amnesty so justice can be made in Brazil," he added. The former Brazilian President went on to deny that he and his supporters attempted a coup that rocked the nation on January 8, 2023. “What is a coup? It is tanks on the streets, weapons, and conspiracy. None of that happened in Brazil,” he said.

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The conservative leader took to X, formally known as Twitter to share some of the visuals from the massive rally. The Brazillian politician can be seen waving at his supporters as they wave the Brazilian flag and take over Paulista Avenue. It is pertinent to note that Bolsonaro is currently facing a Brazilian Federal Police investigation into an alleged attempted coup plot to keep him in power after he lost the 2022 presidential election. The Brazilian leader went on to insist that he was being “persecuted” without taking the names of his opposition leaders or any federal institution.

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Allies say Bolosonaro still holds political strength

As Bolosonaro continues to navigate through his legal battles, the former Brazilian President remain barred from running for office until 2030. Amid the chaos, allies of the far-right leader stated that the Sunday demonstrations show that Bolsonaro still holds significant political strength in the Latin American nation. “He is not dead, he is competitive,” said congressman Marco Feliciano, a member of Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party, adding Brazil would “turn into chaos” if the former president were to be arrested, The Guardian reported. The Sunday rally was attended by dozens of lawmakers including São Paulo governor Tarcisio de Freitas, who served as Bolsonaro’s infrastructure minister. Freitas is also touted as the successor in Brazil’s right-wing politics. “He wants to try to show his strength to the supreme court and remain politically viable, even if he gets arrested,” a source close to Bolsonaro said on Sunday, comparing the former Brazilian president to Lula who spent over 500 days in prison between 2018 and 2019. However, Lula's sentence was eventually annulled by the court and he managed to contest the elections in 2022. 

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Published February 26th, 2024 at 12:50 IST