Groups supporting and opposing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro clashed in violent disturbances amid the political and health crisis besetting the South American giant, one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The most serious incidents occurred on Sunday along Paulista Avenue in the heart of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, where the pro-Bolsonaro forces demanded the “closure” of both Parliament and the Supreme Court and a “military intervention” but encountered a huge opposition group that had gathered for a protest “in defence of democracy”, reports Efe news.
Tensions rose among those aligning themselves with the “conservative values” proclaimed by the ultra-rightist Bolsonaro as they confronted those demonstrating in favour of “democratic institutions” and against the “authoritarianism” they accuse the reserve army captain turned president, who was inaugurated in January 2019, of fomenting and pursuing.
The pro-democracy forces carried signs to that effect and were joined by the fans of several soccer clubs.
The demonstrations, convened in several cities around the country, come at a point where Brazil, with almost half a million confirmed coronavirus cases, finds itself in the No. 2 spot worldwide in terms of people infected with the virus and No. 4 in terms of deaths, with 28,834, according to the latest official tally.
Also on Sunday in Brasilia, Bolsonaro attended an event organized by his supporters at which there were also harsh words for Parliament and the Supreme Court and calls for a military intervention to impose “order and progress”, the slogan on the Brazilian flag.
Bolsonaro made no remarks at the event, limiting himself to greeting and embracing many of those attending, lifting children in his arms and posing for selfies with the crowd, all without wearing a facemask, although doing so is obligatory for the general public in moving about the streets of the capital.
After greeting his some 3,000 followers participating in the event, the Pesident headed over to a group of mounted policemen, got into the saddle on one of the horses and took the horse through the crowd, after which the throng dispersed without any further incident.
The demonstration came after a day after a small group of ultra-rightist activists who have been camping out for days in downtown Brasilia headed toward the Supreme Court building in a torchlit march.
In a scenario evoking neo-Nazi memories, dressed in black and some wearing facemasks, the demonstrators chanted slogans against the high court, which they accused of “yielding to communist interests”.
Bolsonaro and three of his sons are currently being investigated in several probes being pursued by the Attorney General’s Office and supervised by the Supreme Court.
The President is suspected of trying to illegally intervene in the Federal Police, an autonomous entity that is under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, the former head of which, Sergio Moro, has denounced those alleged irregularities.
On Saturday, Bolsonaro posted a series of messages on the social networks alluding to the problems his administration is having with the judiciary and complained – as he has been doing almost daily – about the treatment that the press, exclusively “leftist” in his opinion, is giving to the investigations that have tainted him, his sons and several allies.