Mass rallies in support of Brazil’s President Bolsonaro planned

World Today

He swept to power on a wave of anger at the previous government. But Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is facing intense opposition himself just months after his inauguration.

Now, pro-government supporters are calling for mass rallies Sunday to show their support. CGTN’s Paulo Cabral has more from Sao Paulo.

In mid-May, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in cities all over Brazil for demonstrations initially called to protest cuts in the education budget – but that turned into widespread disputes against the Bolsonaro administration.

Supporters of the president were stirred up and called for their own rallies this Sunday to back Bolsonaro and pressure the Brazilian Parliament to vote and approve the government’s agenda.

Sao Paulo State Assembly Deputy Douglas Garcia tells CGTN: “The protests on Sunday are to support the government pension system reform, the anti-crime bills and all other measures that the Bolsonaro government needs to see advancing in Parliament. Our traditional parties are used to a give-and-take politics, and this government does not do that. So we need popular support to push the politicians because that’s all we have.”

Bolsonaro himself initially supported the rallies and considered an appearance but over the week, he gave up on the idea and told his ministers not to go either, to avoid worsening his already difficult relationship with the Congress.

The calls for pro-government rallies have actually caused divisions between the right-wing groups which supported the election of Jair Bolsonaro.

Fernando Holiday, a Sao Paulo Council Member says, “The group calling for these protests is very radical, close to what we could call the extreme right, and we cannot agree with that. This all actually began with demands that are against the Republic, like shutting down the Congress or asking for a military intervention so the president could govern with an iron fist. Only later, they changed this into more acceptable demands.”

Claudio Couto, a professor with Getulio Vargas Foundation explains: “The main idea inside the Bolsonarism is the idea that it is important to keep politics as tense as possible. To create conflict all the time because they believe conflict is a way to obtain support from the streets and to make the political class fear, afraid of defying the president.”

The turnout for Sunday’s demonstrations will test the ability of Bolsonaro’s core supporters to put pressure on the political establishment. Even if there is a large turnout, it remains to be seen how effective this strategy will be.

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