2022 Race

Bolsonaro’s plan for Independence Day in Rio de Janeiro

Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR
Jair and Michelle Bolsonaro. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

Rio de Janeiro will host a military parade on September 7 to commemorate Brazil’s independence from Portugal, President Jair Bolsonaro told supporters in São Paulo last week.  

“We want to innovate. At 4 pm on September 7, for the first time, our Armed Forces and our sisters, our auxiliary forces, will parade down Copacabana beach, alongside our people,” Mr. Bolsonaro said, during the national convention of the Republicanos party on Saturday. The president’s candidate for governor of São Paulo state, former infrastructure minister Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, launched his election bid during the event.

The traditional Independence Day parade in Brasília will still take place prior to Rio’s event on the morning of September 7, with President Bolsonaro in attendance. This year marks 200 years of Brazil’s independence from Portugal, and presidents from the world’s lusophone countries have been invited to celebrate the anniversary in Brasília.

So far, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is reportedly the only foreign leader to have confirmed his plans to attend.  

With Mr. Bolsonaro doubling down on his criticism of Brazil’s electoral system and his threats to stage a coup if he loses his re-election bid in October — which seems likely — the Independence Day rallies are shaping up to be a putschist pro-Bolsonaro event.

On Saturday, the president called on his supporters to take to the streets on September 7 to defend “freedom” and “the fight against evil.”

Concern about the threat that Mr. Bolsonaro poses to the integrity of this year’s electoral process has led business leaders and other prominent Brazilians to sign a manifesto defending democracy. The open letter garnered half a million signatures within five days of launching last week, with over 635,500 signatories as of Monday morning.