True to form, Bolsonaro backtracks on anti-democratic protest: “I defend democracy”

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President Jair Bolsonaro claimed this morning that he defends Brazil’s democratic institutions, less than 24 hours after taking part in a quasi-putschist protest to commemorate Armed Forces Day. “We don’t have to close [Congress or the Supreme Court]. We are a democracy, we respect the Brazilian Constitution. This is my house, your house. So, please, don’t talk about it here. Supreme Court, [it’s] open and transparent. Congress, [it’s] open and transparent,” he told one supporter, who asked the president to close the Supreme Court. 

President Bolsonaro told reporters that Sunday’s demonstration aimed only at supporting the reopening of the economy, and to celebrate Brazil’s military.

As we highlighted in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, Jair Bolsonaro has developed a habit of making outrageous statements or gestures against democracy, before following it up with a hollow act of moderation. Today’s statements are another prime example. As Brasília correspondent Brenno Grillo revealed on March 24, impeachment talks have been brewing in Brasília. But, at least for now, political leaders are reluctant to pull the trigger.