Brazil's lower house speaker, judiciary react to Bolsonaro’s coup remarks

Supreme Court head calls president’s actions ‘intolerable,’ 'undemocratic and unlawful'

Gabriel Toueg   | 09.09.2021
Brazil's lower house speaker, judiciary react to Bolsonaro’s coup remarks Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a demonstration to support him for attack on the country's Supreme Court, in front of the Brazilian national congress in Brasilia, Brazil, September 7, 2021. ( Mateus Bonomi - Anadolu Agency )


Brazilian Chamber of Deputies Speaker Arthur Lira said Wednesday that it is time to “stop escalating tensions” between powers, one day after mass demonstrations hit the country. 

There is no more room for “radicalism and excess,” he said.

His remarks were in response to President Jair Bolsonaro, who challenged the Supreme Court on Tuesday and said he would not respect its decisions and would only leave power if dead.

The president’s comments at the demonstrations, which drew 250,000 people in three cities, were harshly criticized.

A short time after Lira spoke to Congress, the head of the Judiciary, Luiz Fux, called Bolsonaro’s actions “intolerable.”

Fux said attitudes such as “offending the Justices’ honor, inciting the population to propagate hate speech against the Supreme Court and encouraging non-compliance with court decisions” are “undemocratic and unlawful” practices.

“Institutional criticism is not to be confused and does not fit with narratives of discrediting the Supreme Court and its members, as they have been seriously disseminated by the head of the Nation,” Fux said in a speech from the Supreme Court that is being considered strong by political analysts.

Without naming Bolsonaro but referring to him as “the head of the nation,” Fux spoke of “false prophets of patriotism.”

He said Bolsonaro’s disrespect for Supreme Court decisions will be a “crime of responsibility” which could initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.

“If contempt for judicial decisions occurs at the initiative of the chief of any of the Powers, this attitude, in addition to representing an attack on democracy, constitutes a crime of responsibility,” he said.

Lira said “intimidation on social networks, videos and an eternal platform stopped being a virtual element and started to impact the daily life of the real Brazil.”

He noted other pressing issues in the country, such as “[a liter of] gasoline reaching 7 reais ($1.32), the overvalued dollar [in relation to the real], and the reduction of expectations.”

The crisis “stimulates incitement and excesses,” he said.

His comments, however, have been regarded as weak. As the head of Congress’ Lower House, Lira is responsible for the decision to uphold and proceed with one of more than 130 impeachment requests against Bolsonaro that have already been presented.

Although a growing number of politicians now accept the idea of impeaching Bolsonaro, Lira’s speech went in the opposite direction, showing little willingness to initiate the process. Nowhere did he mention the possibility of accepting any of the requests.

“I’m open to talks and negotiations to calm things down,” said Lira. He also stated that the Chamber of Deputies “extends its hands to other powers to get them back to work, ending disagreements.”

The current institutional crisis was initiated by Bolsonaro, who declared that the 2022 national elections will only take place if a printed vote is implemented, something that was rejected in a vote in Congress.

In his speech, Lira said that the issue of the printed vote is “a closed chapter.”

"I cannot admit disputes on decisions taken and overcome,” he said.

Meanwhile, the heads of the Federal District’s security forces said they identified at least seven real-life attempts to invade the Supreme Court building on Tuesday by protesters who support Bolsonaro.

Two attempts during Independence Day protests through the walls that give access to the back of the building were intercepted. ​​​​​​​

Guardrails were torn down and threats were made to advance to the building, which was surrounded by police during the protests.

The situation was described as “almost a tragedy” and is being monitored, as some protesters remain in the area of the building.

Protesters plan a new demonstration for later Wednesday.

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