April 22, 2024

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Jair Bolsonaro: The former Brazilian president denies coup allegations

Jair Bolsonaro: The former Brazilian president denies coup allegations

  • By Ion Wells
  • South America correspondent in Sao Paulo

Video explanation,

Watch: Thousands gather in Sao Paulo to support former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he has been a victim of political persecution since leaving office just over a year ago.

He told tens of thousands of supporters in São Paulo that the coup allegations against him were a “lie.”

He also called for amnesty for hundreds of his supporters convicted of attacks on public buildings.

Police are investigating whether Bolsonaro instigated a failed coup after losing the 2022 election.

Speaking to a crowd on Sunday in Brazil's largest city, the 68-year-old former president denied the accusations against him and described them as politically motivated.

He said it was time to forget the past and let Brazil move forward.

He also used his speech to talk about the upcoming presidential elections in 2026.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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Jair Bolsonaro returned to Brazil from the United States in March 2023, saying he had nothing to fear

Huge crowds wearing yellow and green – the colors of the Brazilian flag – gathered to listen to Bolsonaro's speech. Those I spoke to say they are here demonstrating for freedom, especially freedom of expression.

They criticize what they see as threats to put Bolsonaro in prison for “speaking his mind.”

Many of his supporters at the rally repeated unsubstantiated claims that the recent election was rigged. He had asked them not to bring posters saying so or criticizing institutions such as the Supreme Court.

Alexandre France, a 53-year-old commercial manager, told the BBC that many people gathered to participate in the march because “we must express what we want for our country.”

“Today everyone is afraid of repression. So I think we are here to show our faces. We want Brazil for all, freedom for all,” he added.

Rogerio Morgado, a 55-year-old military official, was another participant in the demonstration interviewed by the BBC. “Brazilian politicians are afraid of people in the streets, and this is the only thing Brazilian politicians are afraid of,” he said.

Bolsonaro's speech is being closely monitored by the authorities for anything that could be seen as incitement to riots or undermining the electoral system.

After he lost the election to leftist candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, thousands of his supporters stormed government buildings in the capital Brasilia – including the presidential palace, the Supreme Court and Congress – looting and vandalizing the buildings.

Since then, three of Bolsonaro's allies have been arrested, as has the head of his political party.

The police accuse them of spreading doubts about the electoral system, which has become a rallying cry for its supporters.

Police say this paves the way for a possible coup. But when he failed to gain the support of the armed forces, his frustrated supporters stormed the Congress, the building that houses the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, on January 8 last year.

Bolsonaro was in the United States when the attack on Congress occurred. He returned to Brazil in March 2023, saying he had nothing to fear.

He remains the most influential figure on the right in Brazilian politics.

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