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Bolsonaro is stoking a Capitol riot-style insurrection in Brazil that could happen as early as Tuesday, more than 20 ex-world leaders warn

  • Jair Bolsonaro has been encouraging protests against Brazil’s supreme court and constitution.
  • His supporters are planning mass marches around the country on Tuesday.
  • Former world leaders warned that Bolsonaro is backing a coup akin to the Capitol riot.

Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is backing a coup in his country apparently modeled on the January 6 storming of the US Capitol, a group of former world leaders have warned.

Bolsonaro supporters have carried out a number of protests against Brazil’s s congress and supreme court in recent weeks, and are planning fresh new ones across the country on Tuesday.

Bolsonaro has long criticized Brazil’s constitution, saying it is “communist” and that it limits presidents’ powers. More recently, he has attacked the Supreme Court after it greenlit an investigation into his unsubstantiated claim that Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud.

The claim came as the country prepares for general elections in October 2022, where he is up for reelection. Critics already fear Bolsonaro will use all means possible to hang onto power should he lose.

In an open letter released Monday, 26 former world leaders and dozens of former ministers said Bolsonaro was supporting a potential coup.

“Members of Congress in Brazil have warned that the 7 September mobilization has been modeled on the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, when then-president Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to ‘stop the steal’ with false claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections,” the letter said.

“We are gravely concerned about the imminent threat to Brazil’s democratic institutions – and we stand vigilant to defend them ahead of 7 September and after. The people of Brazil have struggled for decades to secure democracy from military rule. Bolsonaro must not be permitted to rob them of it now.”

Among the signatories are former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, and former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

On Thursday, Luiz Fux, the chief justice of Brazil’s supreme court, warned Brazilians to act within the law, according to The Guardian.

“Freedom of expression does not entail violence and threats,” Fux said.

Bolsonaro is expected to give speeches at rallies in São Paulo and the capital Brasília on Tuesday, according to Correio Braziliense.

He has called the previous protests a “necessary countercoup,” The Guardian reported.

He also said last week, according to The Intercept: “I believe that we are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” adding that “an opportunity for the Brazilian people has never been so important.”

Bolsonaro’s messaging has often been compared to that of Trump, whose supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. Trump has consistently claimed that votes were stolen from him.

Bolsonaro’s popularity is hovering around its lowest-ever mark following his disasterous handling of the country’s outbreak of COVID-19.

“If he loses the election, he can mobilize the military forces, the police, the militias,” Fernando Luiz Abrucio, a political scientist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, told The New York Times. “The degree of violence could be much greater than the episode in the US Capitol.”

As Insider’s John Haltiwanger previously reported, Bolsonaro held a military parade in Brasília featuring armored tanks on the same day Brazil’s congress rejected Bolsonaro’s proposal to make paper ballots the sole method of voting.


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