By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Thousands are expected to take to the streets today, Sunday, in Brazil in support of President Jair Bolsonaro and his government. However, the demonstrations are likely to be anything but unified, as different conservative groups call for different actions and some have already stated they will not participate.

Brazil, São Paulo, corruption, Rousseff, protest
More than one million took to the streets in São Paulo back in 2016 to protest against corruption, photo by Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil.

“Bolsonaro bled for this country, but his enemies think it’s not enough. They want to bury him. On the 26th, we are going to the streets in protest against the Centrão [Congress’s largest voting bloc], the Federal Supreme Court, and all enemies of Brazil and this government, which has become so necessary,” says the Twitter message from the Brazilian Conservative Movement (MBC), summoning Bolsonaro supporters to the rallies.

“Yes, I will be going to the rally,” Carla Zambelli, a federal deputy from Bolsonaro’s PSL party told The Rio Times.

“We will have rallies in more than 300 cities where people will march in support of the measures proposed by the Bolsonaro government and against the ‘old politics’. I expect a lot of people with the spirit of union, with the spirit of a better Brazil and people with the desire to see Brazil work out,” added the Chamber of Deputies representative.

According to Zambelli, the marches will also “strengthen Congressional representatives who want to vote according to their conscience and the will of their voters.”

For her, the force of the population in the streets will give them independence, and “they will feel empowered and secure to go against the leaders of their political parties.”

Important Bolsonaro supporters like the MBL and the Partido Novo, however, have already announced they will not attend the marches.

Kim Kataguiri, also a federal deputy (DEM), is one of the leaders of the MBL (Brazilian Liberal Movement), one of the largest conservative groups in Brazil.

In 2016 MBL, alongside other conservative, anti-PT, right-wing groups, led thousands to the streets, calling for the impeachment of then-President Dilma Rousseff. This time around, however, his group will not be participating in the demonstrations.

“We are not joining, we are not supporting and we will not promote the rallies on the 26th for one simple reason: some organizers are calling for the invasion and closing of Congress, which is per se an anti-liberal, anti-republican stance, as well as the closing of the Supreme Court,” said Kataguiri in a video explaining MBL’s position.

“One can criticize members of the Supreme Court and members of Congress, just as I have done, just as the MBL has done, but to defend the closing of these institutions is completely different. Those are ideas of revolutionaries, nothing to do with conservatives,” concluded the lawmaker.

Congressional Deputy Carla Zambelli poses with President Bolsonaro, photo courtesy of Carla Zambelli.

The divergence between Bolsonaro supporters does not seem to worry Representative Zambelli. “I don’t see a clash among groups that support Bolsonaro, but a clash between right-wing groups; between conservatives and those calling themselves liberal-libertarians, progressives. All conservative groups that I know of are behind Bolsonaro,” noted the lawmaker.

The military, a large part of the Bolsonaro government, is also expected to weigh in on the marches. The Clube Militar (Military Club), with some 38,000 members among active members, reservists and civilians, announced it decided to support the demonstrations scheduled for Sunday “in defense of President Bolsonaro”.

In a message posted on its website and sent by e-mail to affiliates, the organization says support for the government is motivated by defense of the “reforms needed to govern”.

“The Clube Militar, traditionally concerned with issues related to the development of the Brazilian nation, has invited its members to participate in the demonstrations to be carried out throughout the entire country, supporting the federal government in implementing the necessary reforms for governability,” said the message sent out to its members.

According to the organization, the participation of the institution in street events is not common, but “an evaluation prevails that the moment requires a more effective positioning”.

Last week President Bolsonaro announced he would not be attending any of the rallies in support of his government and asked cabinet members and aides to avoid any participation in the events. This position, however, did not dampen the enthusiasm of rally supporters.

President Bolsonaro announced he would not attend any of the rallies on Sunday, photo by Bolsonaro Family/Creative Commons/Flickr

“The fact that Bolsonaro is not going is positive, because the leftists are trying to say that it was the president himself and his government who organized it,” argues Zambelli.

“In reality, these marches began to be organized more than two months ago and became marches in support of Bolsonaro after what happened [protests against education budget cuts] in the last few weeks,” she added.

The absence of some of the largest conservative groups from Sunday’s event, however, has led organizers to soften their position on the more controversial issues surrounding the rallies.

At the beginning of last week, some organizers were planning to call for the closing of Congress and the Supreme Court; however, by Friday, organizers were focusing more on claiming that the rallies were in support of the government’s programs, such as social security reform and Justice and Public Safety Minister Sergio Moro’s anti-crime bill.

The rallies are also likely to produce widespread criticism of the so-called “centrist” bloc of federal legislators, who conservative groups believe are hindering crucial parts of the government’s agenda in Congress.


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