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Bolsonaro supporters rally on Brazil's national day

September 7, 2021

The protesters showed support for the embattled Brazilian leader, who is feuding with the Supreme Court. With his approval ratings at an all-time low, Bolsonaro also ramped up his attacks on Brazil's voting system.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures to supporters during Independence Day events in Brasilia
Bolsonaro has sowed doubt in the country's electronic voting system, with critics warning of a military coupImage: Eraldo Peres/AP/picture alliance

Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Brazil on Tuesday in support of President Jair Bolsonaro. The Brazilian leader is facing an uphill battle for reelection next year.

What do we know so far about the rallies?

The pro-Bolsonaro marchers were repelled from entering the country's Supreme Court in Brasilia. Bolsonaro has previously lashed out at Brazil's Supreme Court after the legal body launched an investigation into his unfounded claims about voter fraud.

"From now on I won't accept one or two people acting outside the constitution," Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia. In a veiled threat to the country's highest legal body, Bolsonaro said the court could "suffer what we don't want."

The Brazilian leader has called for one of the Supreme Court justices, Alexandre de Moraes, to be impeached by the Senate.

Sao Paulo address

Bolsonaro later addressed thousands of supporters later in the day in Sao Paulo, the country's most populated city.

The president tweeted a video on Twitter of the massive crowd on Sao Paulo's famous Paulista Avenue.

During his Sao Paolo speech, Bolsonaro again attacked Supreme Court Justice de Moraes, and said he would no longer comply with his rulings. De Moraes will lead the country's electoral tribunal next year after the voting.

"I want to tell those who want to make me unelectable in Brazil: Only God removes from here," Bolsonaro said.

"There are three options for me: be jailed, killed or victorious. I'm letting the scoundrels know: I'll never be imprisoned!" he asserted.

Other notable protests took place in Rio de Janeiro and the northeastern city of Recife, according to posts on social media.

Bolsonaro has previously said the protests will be peaceful. The demonstrations are occurring during the country's independence day from Portugal, with Bolsonaro having presided over a flag-raising ceremony and an air force flyover in Brasilia.

A group of over 150 left-wing figures, including former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, endorsed a letter on Monday claiming Bolsonaro and his supporters were orchestrating a coup in the world's third-largest democracy.

Will Bolsonaro lose to Lula?

Later on Tuesday, opposition protesters took to the streets, shouting "Get out, Bolsonaro!"

Sao Paulo public security officials estimated the turnout to be 140,000 for the pro-Bolsonaro rally and 15,000 for the counter-demonstration just a few kilometers (miles) away.

Former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro's top political challenger, slammed the current president during a a social media address on Monday and vowed a new path forward for the country.

Recent polls show Lula handily beating Bolsonaro in the 2022 election. Lula has previously referred to Bolsonaro as a "psychopath."

Bolsonaro, who assumed office in 2019, has been criticized for his perceived mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-environmental policies and corruption, among other issues.

The Brazilian leader has also made numerous homophobic and sexist comments, and expressed reverence for the country's two-decade long military dictatorship.

jsi, wd/rt (AP, Reuters)