Bolsonaro threatens coup, says to only leave power when dead

Politically weakened, Brazil’s president takes part in protests in favor of his government

Gabriel Toueg  | 08.09.2021 - Update : 08.09.2021
Bolsonaro threatens coup, says to only leave power when dead


Dogged by an investigation as part of an inquiry into fake news and politically weakened, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took part in demonstrations Tuesday in favor of his administration in the federal capital, Brasilia, and in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.  

In two inflammatory speeches on the country’s Independence Day, Bolsonaro threatened institutions and a coup and even said he would only leave power when he dies. 

In Brasília, Bolsonaro made a direct threat to Supreme Court Chief Justice Luiz Fux. 

“Either the head of that power [the judiciary] frames ‘his’ [justice], or he can suffer what we don’t want,” he said, without further explanation, referring to recent rulings by another Supreme Court Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, against government supporters, who are in custody or under investigation. Fux is expected to speak Wednesday on Bolsonaro remarks. 

Later in Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro said he would no longer respect De Moraes’ court decisions, something considered unconstitutional by law specialists. 

“We must -- yes, because I speak on your behalf -- determine that all ‘political prisoners’ be set free. This president will no longer obey [Alexandre de Moraes’ decisions]. Our people’s patience has already run out,” he said to thousands who flocked to Paulista Avenue, a traditional place for protests in Sao Paulo. 

According to local police, around 125,000 people took part in the Sao Paulo demonstrations, while supporters expected 2 million. Many carried posters attacking the Supreme Court and De Moraes. 

In Brasilia, around 200,000 people participated. Smaller demonstrations were also held in cities like Rio de Janeiro. 

‘Only God can get me out of there’ 

“Either Justice [De Moraes] fits in, or he should ask to leave. One cannot admit that only one person, only one man clouds our freedom,” Bolsonaro said. 

He said the only options for him are to be arrested, killed or win in the elections, which seems unlikely according to recent opinion polls. 

He went on by saying, however, that he will “never” be arrested. 

“[I want] to say to those who want to make me ineligible in Brasilia: only God can get me out of there.” 

The remarks by Bolsonaro, who said he would convene a special council only used in extreme situations such as a state of siege, provoked harsh reactions in the political sphere. After the demonstrations and coup threats, the number of politicians who now accept the idea of impeaching the president have grown in the country. Jurists say Bolsonaro’s threats justify impeachment. 

The current Bolsonaro-sponsored institutional crisis began when he said the 2022 elections would only be held with the implementation of the printed vote, a proposal defeated in Congress. 

Bolsonaro insisted on the matter again today. 

“No person is going to tell us this [voting] process is safe and reliable because it isn’t,” he said. “I cannot participate in a farce like this, sponsored by the president of the Superior Electoral Court.”

Implemented in 1996, the electronic ballot box has proven to be safe. 

Surprisingly for some, Bolsonaro failed to address in his speeches more pressing issues in Brazil such as rampant inflation, the economic crisis, high fuel prices, the coronavirus pandemic and the growing number of unemployed and hungry people. ​​​​​​​ 

With roughly 21 million COVID-19 cases, Brazil has surpassed 584,000 deaths, while vaccinations are still considered slow. Just over 31% of the population is fully immunized and the Delta variant of the virus has spread to many regions, raising concerns.

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