Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil's ex-president denies coup allegations

  • By Ioan Wells
  • South American Correspondent in Sao Paulo

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WATCH: Thousands rally in Sao Paulo in support of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil's former president Jair Bolsonaro has said he has suffered political persecution since leaving office a year ago.

He told tens of thousands of supporters in Sao Paulo that the coup allegations against him were a “lie”.

He also called for amnesty for hundreds of his supporters convicted of attacks on public buildings.

Police are investigating whether Mr Bolsonaro staged a failed coup after losing the 2022 election.

Addressing a rally in Brazil's largest city on Sunday, the 68-year-old former president dismissed the allegations against him as politically motivated.

He said it is time for Brazil to forget the past and move forward.

He also used his speech to talk about the presidential election to be held in 2026.

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Jair Bolsonaro left the US for Brazil in March 2023, saying he had nothing to fear.

A large crowd dressed in yellow and green, the colors of the Brazilian flag, gathered to hear Mr Bolsonaro speak. The people I spoke to are here protesting for freedom, especially freedom of speech.

They criticize what they see as threats to jail Mr Bolsonaro for “speaking his mind”.

Many of his supporters at the rally repeated unproven claims that the last election was rigged. He asked them not to bring posters criticizing institutions like the Supreme Court.

Alexandre Franca, a 53-year-old business director, told the BBC that many people gathered at the rally because “we have to express what we want for our country.

“Today everyone is afraid of repression. So I think we have come to show our faces. Everyone wants Brazil, everyone wants freedom,” he added.

Another rally participant, Rogério Morgado, a 55-year-old army officer, was interviewed by the BBC. He said: “Brazilian politicians fear the people on the streets, this is what Brazilian politicians fear.”

Any speech by Mr Bolsonaro that incites riots or undermines the electoral system is closely watched by authorities.

After he lost a referendum to leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, thousands of his supporters looted and vandalized government buildings in the capital Brasilia – including the presidential palace, the Supreme Court and Congress.

Three of Mr Bolsonaro's associates have been arrested and the head of his political party has also been detained.

Accusing the police of spreading suspicions about the election process, it became a rallying cry for his supporters.

This, the police argue, sets the stage for a possible coup. However, after failing to secure the support of the armed forces, his frustrated supporters laid siege to the Congress, which houses the Supreme Court and the President's House, on January 8 last year.

Mr Bolsonaro was in the US when the attack on Congress took place. He returned to Brazil in March 2023 and said he had nothing to fear.

He is very influential on the right wing of Brazilian politics.

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