Bolsonaro supporters try to occupy Brazil health ministry

Brasilia, Sep 8 (EFE).- A group of followers of President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday attempted to occupy the Brazilian Health Ministry one day after protests encouraged by the right-wing head of state that included threats to the country’s democratic institutions.

The incidents began when a man got into a argument with ultrarightist activists, who then tried to attack him and pursued him to the ministry, where he sought refuge along with several journalists who were covering the situation and were also threatened, including one reporter with EFE, Spain’s international news agency.

The demonstrators were prevented from entering the ministry by security personnel, who locked the doors, whereupon the activists withdrew although they remained on Brasilia’s Esplanade of the Ministries, a central avenue along which virtually all of the national government buildings are located.

On that same avenue, Bolsonaro on Tuesday had presided over an Independence Day march by some 20,000 ultrarightist followers and delivered a speech attacking Congress and the Supreme Court.

Bolsonaro then traveled to Sao Paulo, where before another huge crowd he ratcheted up his tone and urged his supporters to disobey court rulings, in particular those of Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is heading an investigation of Bolsonaro and numerous supporters for spreading fake news and staging attacks on democracy on the social networks.

The speaker of the lower house of Congress, Arthur Lira, demanded Wednesday that the president cease his assault on the country’s democratic institutions.

Lira made his remarks after the Tuesday demonstrations headed by Bolsonaro in which many of his followers demanded a “military intervention” and the “dissolution” of Congress and the Supreme Court.

“It’s time to put an end to that escalation, to the boasting on the social networks, to that eternal campaign that is already impacting real Brazil,” which wants “solutions for inflation, is concerned about the pandemic and other serious problems in the economy,” Lira said.

He also castigated Bolsonaro’s insistence on criticizing the electronic voting system the country adopted in 1996 and which since then has not been the target of a single fraud complaint, despite the fact that the president and his followers are discrediting it.

Bolsonaro, who had proposed to Congress a parallel system of paper ballots, something that has been rejected by lawmakers, said Tuesday that without a paper ballot system in place the 2022 presidential election will be a “farce.”

In response to that, Lira also said that in a democracy “once (an issue) has been rejected” in Congress “one turns the page.”

The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Luis Fux, on Wednesday warned Bolsonaro’s followers that “nobody will shut down” the high court.

“Institutional criticism cannot be confused with discrediting narratives,” Fux said, adding that Bolsonaro’s advocacy of defying court rulings and orders constitutes “an illicit and anti-constitutional practice.’

Bolsonaro’s remarks at Tuesday’s demonstrations have been rejected by almost all political parties, including some on the right, who have urged the president and his followers to “respect” democratic institutions.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Social Party (PSL), which in 2018 was the platform for Bolsonaro’s rise to power, demanded that the president “stop using freedom as a pretext to sow discord, promote hatred and threaten the pillars of democracy.”

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