Police deployed in Brazil as Bolsonaro supporters march on Congress

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With Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro facing likely defeat in the coming 2022 presidential election following all-time high disapproval ratings of his performance, his supporters plan to march on Congress on the same day as Brazil’s independence. Following a rough night where his supporters broke through police roadblocks, security personnel have been deployed en masse in a bid to prevent a repeat of the Capitol Riots that took place in the United States last year.

Unminding of the parallels, Bolsonaro himself has asked supporters to launch a “counter coup” against Brazil’s Supreme Court, which has opposed his government’s sweeping electoral reforms that critics said could have encouraged vote buying.

Donald Trump Jr. had announced his support for his “friend” Bolsonaro and was due to visit Brazil. However, he tweeted saying airport closures in New Jersey due to storm remnants prevented him from doing so, but that he would join virtually.

Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, was incidentally present in Washington during the January 6 Capitol Riot, where supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building in protest against the election outcome, which they claimed had been rigged.

The Federal District’s security secretariat said in a statement that officers had been deployed in an effort to control the situation. Video shared on social media showed trucks progressing while blaring their horns as hundreds of people dressed in the national green-and-yellow colours walked alongside and cheered.

Bolsonaro has been working to mobilise his biggest nationwide street demonstration yet and project strength following a string of setbacks, particularly at the hands of Brazil’s Supreme Court. But it carries risk of embarrassment if crowd numbers fall short or if there is violence perceived as stemming from the president’s influence.

Forced entry into the mall, called the Esplanade of Ministries, heightened a sense of alert ahead of Tuesday’s demonstration, which some analysts have warned runs a risk of resembling the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. For over a month, Bolsonaro has been aiming his ire at two of the top court’s justices in particular.

As of late Monday, Bolsonaro supporters had reached the opposite end of the mall, where police stood guard behind metal barricades outside the Congress and the Supreme Court.

Convoys of trucks and buses have been streaming toward the capital of Brasilia and Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, where the nation’s two biggest demonstrations are set to take place Tuesday and Bolsonaro will speak.

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