2022 Race

Bolsonaro renews attacks against Supreme Court in Brasília

Jair Bolsonaro and First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro during Independence Day celebrations. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/ABr
Jair Bolsonaro and First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro during Independence Day celebrations. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/ABr

President Jair Bolsonaro used the government-organized celebration of Brazil’s independence bicentennial to deliver an electorally charged speech to throngs of supporters wearing green and yellow. Symbolically, Mr. Bolsonaro removed the presidential sash before addressing the crowd.

Mr. Bolsonaro repeated his campaign talking points, mentioning his anti-abortion values and praising the government for the recent slowdown of inflation, a result of lower fuel prices. Once again, he framed the electoral race between him and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as a “battle between good and evil.”

Without mentioning any of the Supreme Court justices, Mr. Bolsonaro did, however, rehash his attacks against them. “Be sure that everyone must play within the four lines of the Constitution,” he said. “With re-election, we will bring within these bounds all of those who dare to remain outside,” he added, in an allusion to the Supreme Court.

As an electoral argument, Mr. Bolsonaro also suggested voters compare First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro to the spouses of past presidents — then began chanting that he is “imbrochável,” literally claiming that he has no troubles maintaining an erection.

The initial reaction from pundits was of relief that the president did not frontally repeat his 2021 Independence Day antics, when he threatened to no longer abide by Supreme Court rulings. Yet, during a breakfast event at the presidential palace, Mr. Bolsonaro referred to moments of democratic rupture — adding that “history could be repeated.” (See video below, at 2:22.)

“I want to say that Brazil has already undergone difficult moments, but also good moments: [18]22, 65, [19]64, [20]16, 18, and now 22. History can be repeated, good always triumphs over evil.”

The president made reference to a 1922 lieutenants’ revolt in Rio de Janeiro. By “65,” Mr. Bolsonaro may have alluded to the Paraguayan War, a six-year clash opposing Paraguay and a coalition between Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Brazilian troops became involved in the conflict in 1865.

“64” is an obvious reference to the 1964 coup d’état which kicked off a 21-year dictatorship — a period which Mr. Bolsonaro remembers fondly. The other two dates were references to 2016, when then-President Dilma Rousseff was impeached, and 2018, when he was elected president.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors opened a civil inquiry hoping to stop the government from transforming September 7 Independence Day celebrations into an electoral rally — an effort that, apparently, failed.