“Free fatherland or die for Brazil!” they repeat for several minutes, like a prayer. Your gaze is directed ahead. But there is no altar there, but the military command of the southeast in the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo. The verse they recite in chorus comes from the first anthem of the Brazilian monarchy after independence from Portugal in 1822. A good 200 years, an empire, a republic and a military dictatorship later, hundreds of free Brazilians are now on the streets, equipped with the latest National team shirts, mobile phones in hand to call for a coup d’état.
Since the election, radicalized supporters of ousted President Jair Bolsonaro have been demonstrating against the result of the October 30 run-off, in which Bolsonaro lost by almost two percentage points to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the left-wing Workers’ Party. After the election, there were initially hundreds of street blockades, which the police tolerated for days. In many places, the officials looked on complicitly.
Especially in remote regions, the blockades still exist today and hinder, for example, the transport of agricultural goods. Later, protesters began to gather in front of the country’s military installations. The sieges have turned into regular camps with tents, toilets, field kitchens and medical posts. The army is watching.
The 41-year-old Mara has been in front of the military command in São Paulo since the first day after the election. This is where the fitness trainer, who doesn’t want to reveal her full name, set up her tent with a friend. You take turns, she says. She comes back every day after work. “The electoral fraud was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” But the persecution by the constitutional court and the censorship began much earlier. Order must be restored and those responsible for this “dictatorship” of the judiciary must be punished. “Only the army can solve that,” she says. It’s a call for a coup.
There is a mixture of festival atmosphere and military nostalgia at the camp in front of the military command in São Paulo. Protected from the weather under tent roofs, small groups sit on camping chairs, drink, eat, discuss and confirm each other. Again and again they stare at their phones, which bring all sorts of true and false information to them via social networks. March music sounds from a camouflage tent. A sign in English is emblazoned on the roof: “Brazil was stolen”.
Everyone here believes in the stolen election. They don’t need any proof. The call for help “SOS armed forces” can be read on another board. Next door, a tent says “Civil Resistance”. In between, vendors offer food and drink, as well as national flags and clothing in the yellow and green national colors that everyone wears here. There are free meals in various tents. “Everything is donated,” says one of the helpers. By whom, he doesn’t know. The judiciary and investigative authorities are investigating. There is evidence of financially strong support from some entrepreneurs.
“The army is our only hope”
Mara believes the protests are growing. New “patriots” keep coming. “We have to fight now, before it’s too late.” She doesn’t accept that calling for a military intervention, i.e. a coup d’etat, is against the law. “We have the right to ask for it. There’s no coup if it’s the people’s initiative,” she says. If there was a coup d’état, then that was the election. Your claim is therefore legitimate. “The army is our only hope.” We will continue and see what comes of it.