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Brazil: Thousands rally behind Bolsonaro amid coup probe

February 26, 2024

The former Brazilian President has denied the charges of plotting a coup and called for amnesty for those jailed for last year's Brasilia riots.

Jair Bolsonaro cheering with his supporters during a rally in Sao Paulo
During the rally, Bolsonaro said, "I'm looking for pacification, to erase the past and find a way for us to live in peace"Image: NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP

Thousands of supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gathered on the streets of Sao Paulo on Sunday to protest the allegations against him that could lead to his imprisonment.

Bolsonaro is being investigated over his role in an alleged coup attempt on January 8, 2023, when his supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia after the far-right lawmaker lost the presidential election to leftist Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva at the end of 2022.

An estimated 185,000 showed up for the rally, according to independent observers, filling up the city's Paulista Avenue.

What did Bolsonaro say during the rally?

At the rally, Bolsonaro spoke for 20 minutes, denying the charges that he planned a coup to stay in power after losing the election in October 2022.

"What is a coup? It is tanks on the streets, weapons, conspiracy. None of that happened in Brazil," he said.

Jair Bolsonaro's supporters during a rally in Sao Paulo
Thousands of people rallied in support of former Brazilian President Jair BolsonaroImage: NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP

The far-right populist leader, who is often likened to former US President Donald Trump, acquired a more mellow tone than when he was in power and said, that he seeks "pacification to erase the past."

He also called for amnesty for people who were jailed over their participation in the January 8 riot.

"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 Brasilia. We ask all 513 congressmen, 81 senators for a bill of amnesty so justice can be made in Brazil."

Many of Bolsonaro's supporters say that the Supreme Court is persecuting the former president. They also claim that Lula achieved his victory over Bolsonaro through unfair means.

Brazilian authorities seized Bolsonaro's passport after he was accused of editing a draft decree to overturn election results.

He has also been barred from seeking office for eight years. But two distinct camps are already being formed around Bolsonaro and Lula ahead of this year's mayoral elections.

Lula returns to a divided Brazil

mfi/ab (AP, AFP, Reuters)