Brazil's Bolsonaro gathers supporters in show of strength amid coup probe

February 26, 2024 10:49 am

[Source: Reuters]

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gathered thousands of supporters on Sao Paulo’s iconic Paulista Avenue on Sunday to demonstrate political strength amid investigations that many believe could land him in jail.

The far-right former president, who called the rally after being targeted by a police raid earlier this month investigating an alleged coup attempt, spoke for about 20 minutes to defend himself while reminiscing about his 2019-2022 term.

He refrained from attacking old foes and the Supreme Court. Allies expressed concern before the event that any remarks against Brazilian authorities or institutions could get him into even hotter water.

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Bolsonaro had his passport confiscated and was accused of editing a draft decree to overturn election results, pressuring military chiefs to join a coup attempt and plotting to jail a Supreme Court justice after his electoral loss to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2022.

Supporters of Bolsonaro, a populist often likened to former U.S. President Donald Trump, invaded and ransacked Brazil’s presidential palace, Supreme Court and Congress calling for a military coup on Jan. 8, 2023, a week after Lula took office.

Bolsonaro on Sunday denied the accusations and said he was being “persecuted,” adding that the draft decree was based on the constitution. He also called for amnesty for people who took part in the Jan. 8 riot.

“A coup is putting tanks on the streets, weapons, conspiracy. That did not happen in Brazil,” Bolsonaro said. “What I want is pacification. To erase the past and find a way for us to live in peace.”