The Defense Ministry sent a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces, informing them that the government is not planning on organizing a military parade to celebrate the country’s Independence Day, September 7.
The document — reportedly sent on August 2 — mentions the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for calling off the event. The parade did not take place last year either, for the first time since the end of the military dictatorship, in 1985.
The Armed Forces have been an outlier within the Bolsonaro administration in regards to tackling the pandemic. While in public buildings civil servants reported being pressured into not wearing masks so as to avoid displeasing President Jair Bolsonaro (who rarely wears one, and has even said they harm people), commanders strictly enforced testing and social distancing protocols. As a result, Covid-19 lethality among the troops stayed below 0.2 percent, according to data from April 2021.
Still, in order not to contradict the commander-in-chief, President Bolsonaro, the Army’s communications services recommended the term “social distancing” or “social isolation” to be avoided. “Instead, the term ‘preventive sanitary measures’ should be employed,” said a memo dated April 2020.
While Brasília won’t see a military parade on Independence Day, there are fears it could see a riot.
Sérgio Reis, a country singer who has served as a congressman in the past, has called for truck drivers to head to Brasília and protest on September 7 for the return of paper ballots and the impeachment of Supreme Court justices. “If in 30 days they don’t get rid of these guys, we will storm in, break everything, and force them out,” Mr. Reis said on social media.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Reis’s call will be heeded, but many in Brasília already fear a Brazilian version of the January 6 U.S. Capital riots.