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Bolsonaro ‘plotting coup’ warn world leaders

World leaders and Brazilian members of Congress have warned that Tuesday’s demonstration has been modelled on the 6 January ‘stop the steal’ insurrection at the US Capital

Celine Wadhera
Monday 06 September 2021 17:55 BST
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a ceremony in Brasilia
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a ceremony in Brasilia (REUTERS)
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A group of world leaders has warned that Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and his allies may be plotting a military coup that could “endanger democracy in Brazil”.

In an open letter, some 150 parliamentarians, ministers, and ex-presidents from 26 countries sounded an alarm about a potential insurrection on 7 September, modeled after the “stop the steal” uprising at the US Capitol in January.

The letter says: “Right now, President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies – including white supremacist groups, military police, and public officials at every level of government – are preparing a nation-wide march against the Supreme Court and Congress on 7 September, stoking ears of a coup in the world’s third largest democracy.”

It details the ways in which the world leaders – including Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the former prime minister of Spain, and Fernando Lugo, the former President of Paraguay – claim Mr Bolsonaro has undermined democratic institutions in recent weeks.

“On 10 August, he directed an unprecedented military parade through the capital city of Brasilia, as his allies in Congress pushed for sweeping reforms to the country’s electoral system, widely considered to be one of the most trustworthy in the world.”

The group of leaders also noted that Mr Bolsonaro has tried on multiple occasions to cancel the 2022 presidential elections if these reforms are not approved by Congress.

The letter warned of the potential insurrection, noting that on 21 August, Mr Bolsonaro said that the 7 September march would be preparation for a “probable and necessary counter-coup” against Brazil’s democratic institutions, notably Congress and the Supreme Court.

Mr Bolsonaro shared this message via WhatsApp, The Huffington Post reported, urging his supporters to stage the largest demonstration in Brazil’s history, in order to prove their strength. The message also claimed that Brazil’s “communist constitution” had taken away Mr Bolsonaro’s power, and accused the “judiciary, the left, and a whole apparatus of hidden interests” of conspiring against him.

The letter continued: “Members of Congress in Brazil have warned that the 7 September mobilisation has been modelled on the insurrection at the United States Capital on 6 January 2021, when then-president Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to ‘stop the steal’ with false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.”

It ended with a reiteration of the world leaders’ concern, noting that Brazil has struggled for decades to achieve a democratic government. It insisted that the president must not be allowed to reverse that progress and return the country to military rule.

Other signatories on the letter included Ernesto Samper Pizano, the former president of Colombia, Manon Aubry, the French presidential candidate and MEP, American linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky, and 21 British MPs, including former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Recent polls have shown that around 60 per cent of voters do not plan to support Mr Bolsonaro under any circumstances in the 2022 election, due to his mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Previously, Mr Bolsonaro has said that there were only three possibilities for his future: victory in the 2022 presidential elections, prison or death. But polls have put Mr Bolsonaro well behind former president and leftist leader Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, making his first option, under the current electoral system, less likely.

Ahead of Tuesday’s planned demonstrations, Mr Bolsonaro took to Twitter to encourage his supporters to join in and “celebrate” the 199th anniversary of Brazilian independence.

“Independence is associated with FREEDOM,” he said, “the Brazilian population has the right, if they want, to go to the streets and participate in our great date IN PEACE AND HARMONY.

“The same applies to all members of the Federal Executive Branch who are not on duty. May individual freedom be the ultimate in this remarkable event of our sovereignty.”

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