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Bicentenary of independence under tension in Brazil, Bolsonaro in reconquest

Last year, the national holiday of September 7 was marked by pro-Bolsonaro processions, with slogans reminiscent of putschism and a head of state swearing that "only God" could remove him from office.

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Bicentenary of independence under tension in Brazil, Bolsonaro in reconquest

Last year, the national holiday of September 7 was marked by pro-Bolsonaro processions, with slogans reminiscent of putschism and a head of state swearing that "only God" could remove him from office. .

But the polls show Jair Bolsonaro losing to left-wing ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for the Oct. 2 poll, the most polarized in Brazil's recent history.

"This September 7 will inevitably have a big political connotation, because we are in the final stretch of the campaign," Paulo Baia, professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told AFP.

“It will be an eventful day, which could be marred by episodes of violence, because this campaign has been very tense from the start,” he adds.

A year ago, the tension had been extreme the previous evening, when demonstrators broke a police cordon and threatened to invade the Supreme Court.

- Under the kepis, the beach -

The official military parade, which had been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid, will take place in the morning in Brasilia on the esplanade of the ministries, with an exceptional security device and a traffic ban put in place from Monday evening .

On the huge esplanade, the authorities expect to see several tens of thousands of spectators flocking. A pro-Bolsonaro demonstration must take place in stride.

In the afternoon, all the spotlights will be on Rio de Janeiro and its Copacabana beach, one of the most emblematic tourist spots in Brazil.

Traditionally, Rio's military parade is held about fifteen kilometers away, on the large Presidente Vargas Avenue, in the city center.

But the head of state insisted that this year, the soldiers march to the place where the Bolsonarist demonstrations usually take place.

This decision caught the town hall off guard, worried about logistics and security issues: Atlantica Avenue, which follows the coast to Copacabana, is much narrower than that of the center.

A compromise was finally found: there will be no armor near the beach, but warships on the ocean and military planes in the sky, as well as demonstrations by paratroopers.

Jair Bolsonaro should first greet a crowd of bikers who promise a backfiring procession to Copacabana, before haranguing the demonstrators on a large platform rented by pastors of powerful evangelical churches.

Agribusiness tycoons have also contributed financially to the organization of processions across the country.

An intense campaign was carried out on social networks to rally as many demonstrators as possible and Bolsonarist youtubers launched calls for donations online.

One of the sons of the head of state, the pro-arms deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, for his part invited Brazilians who "bought a weapon legally" to volunteer in his father's campaign.

Jair Bolsonaro hopes "a great show of force to retain his voters, but also to seduce others who are more at the center," said Paulo Baia.

In order not to frighten the centrists, the Head of State asked his most enthusiastic supporters to avoid banners and slogans calling for military intervention to close Parliament or the Supreme Court.

He has somewhat moderated his speech in recent weeks, even if he called Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes, one of his pet peeves, a "thug" on Saturday, who notably opened several investigations against him for misinformation.

This implacable magistrate, who is also president of the Superior Electoral Court, two weeks ago ordered searches of businessmen who mentioned a possible coup if the far-right president was not re-elected in October .

According to the latest poll by the Datafolha institute published last week, Lula maintains a comfortable lead with 45% of voting intentions, against 32% for Bolsonaro, even if the gap has narrowed in recent weeks.

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