Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday denied having any intention of carrying out a coup if he loses October’s election. But amid fears of exactly that happening, many voters are keeping their eyes open for any shenanigans.
Efforts by Bolsonaro to turn an Independence Day military parade on Sept. 7 into a political event, less than a month before the presidential election, have raised concerns he may use the military to compensate for his sagging popularity, reports Reuters.
Bolsonaro, who is running second in the polls, said, “I’m not afraid of losing the election. I’m not worried about it,” he said in an interview on the Flow Podcast. “If I wanted to pull off a coup I wouldn’t say anything.”
Bolsonaro did raise suspicions about the voting system in the interview, echoing an argument he has often repeated. “What we want is transparency, because my reputation out there is of a coup plotter, of not wanting to accept the result of the elections,” he said.
And then there is the comment Bolsonaro made in May, or actually shouted, according to Vanessa Barbara, who wrote an opinion piece on the Brazilian President.
“By God above,” he declared to an audience of businesspeople in May, “I’ll never be arrested.” As he spends “more than half” of his time dealing with lawsuits, he surely feels well armed against arrest. But there’s desperation in his defiance. The fate of the former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez, who was recently sentenced to prison for allegedly orchestrating a coup, hangs heavy in the air, writes Barbara.
I found this interesting because Donald Trump has said something similar to that a couple of years ago, a reference to how brazen he could be and still not be arrested. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Trump remarked at a campaign stop at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. “It’s, like, incredible.”
And the bottom line is simple – Bolsonaro has good reason to be afraid of going to prison. In fact, it’s getting hard to keep track of all the charges against the president and his government.