BRASILIA: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday that if he orders the military to take to the streets and restore order, “order will be followed,” raising new questions about his politicization of the Armed Forces.
Speaking during a TV interview, Bolsonaro said he would not “go into details about what I am preparing”. But he said that “if we have problems, we have a plan for how to enter the field … our armed forces may one day go to the streets”.
The comments of Bolsonaro, a former extreme right-wing Army captain who has long praised Brazil’s two decades of military dictatorship, will do little to appease critics who are concerned about his politicization of the military. Others are concerned about their commitment to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of a tight result in next year’s presidential election.
The pressure on the president grew as the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil got out of hand. He has faced widespread criticism for his way of dealing with the outbreak in Brazil, which has the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, after the United States.
Last month, Bolsonaro put his former chief of staff in charge of the Ministry of Defense and replaced the three commanders of the armed forces as part of a cabinet reshuffle that was met with shock by high-ranking military officers.
Since his victory in the 2018 elections, Bolsonaro has made unfounded allegations of electoral fraud in Brazil, which critics say can lay the groundwork to challenge the upcoming elections along the lines of his political idol, former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro gave his support to Trump’s conspiracies of a stolen election last year, which culminated in the deadly attack of his supporters on January 6 on the Capitol building in Washington.