Buda Mendes/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) — After five tumultuous months with Jair Bolsonaro at the helm of the biggest democracy in Latin America, thousands attended demonstrations across Brazil’s major cities on Sunday to show their support for the so-called “Trump of the Tropics.”
“We are here to support our president,” Marlene Camargo, a 48-year-old housewife at the demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, told ABC News. “The media is trying to destroy him. We love him and we have faith in him.”
Though Bolsonaro did not directly call for protesters to hit the streets on Sunday, the president did not hesitate, upon exiting an Evangelical church in Rio de Janeiro, to tweet out videos of the demonstrators.
The number of people who turned out, however, was nowhere near what president’s supporters had hoped it would be.
Brazil has recently seen major protests against Bolsonaro and his administration’s policies. Last week, tens of thousands across the country protested against cuts to education. There were also protests after Bolsonaro called for celebrating the anniversary of a military coup that ushered in years of a dictatorship for Brazil.
A recent poll from the Institute for Social, Political and Economic Research (IPESPE) revealed that that 36% of Brazilians consider his government “bad or terrible,” with only 34% of respondents saying it’s “good or great.”
“Today Bolsonaro is not as strong as he was during the campaign. He cannot make Congress cooperate in passing his agenda and so people keep protesting,” said Mauricio Santoro, a political scientist and professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).
Conservative leaders in Brazil were divided over Sunday’s pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations.
Kim Kataguiri, leader of the conservative Free Brazil Movement (Movimento Brasil Livre) said his party will not assist in the closure of the Parliament or the Supreme Court, two things that the president said in the past that he would like to do. Kataguiri added that the Free Brazil Movement rejects the demonization of Congress.
Although Bolsonaro, a former congressmen, was elected with much fanfare and won over 55% of the vote in October 2018, Brazilians are now questioning if he will be able to stay in power with allegations of corruption against his family members.
Bolsonaro ran a campaign pledging to end the economic recession, zero tolerance on crime, and the eradication corruption. However, his eldest son, Flavio Bolsonaro, has been accused of possible involvement in an irregular payments scheme between 2016 and 2017 when he served as a state legislator, in which the wages of “no show” employees were allegedly pocketed by their employers. These transactions also allegedly involved the future first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro.
“One of the mistakes of Bolsanoro is that he never understood electors voted for him not because they agree with him on everything. Brazilians were eager to have a clean president,” Santoro told ABC News.
The protests around Brazil over the first months of Bolsinaro’s presidency are reminiscent of protests against U.S. president Donald Trump, also considered by some to be a “populist” figure, during the first few months of his administration.
While chanting Bolsonaro’s name at Copacabana beach on Sunday, 62-year-old Antonio Vargas, a medical doctor, told ABC News that the president has difficulties governing because Brazil’s governing institutions are dead.
“Jair Bolsonaro should not hesitate. He should close the Congress and start governing in his own way. We are wasting time” he said.
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