São Paulo (AP) — On Wednesday, key members of the Brazilian government celebrated the anniversary of the 1964 military coup, which began a 21-year dictatorship in which hundreds were killed and thousands were tortured.
Former Army Captain Jair Bolsonaro sought to guide a public conversation to his nostalgia for the 1964-1985 dictatorship, which his supporters claimed to have saved the country from communism. Like from a major cabinet shakeup this week.
“On this day, 57 years ago, military-backed Brazilians stopped the international communist movement from sticking tongs in Brazil,” former Army General Hamilton Mourão said on Twitter. .. “Strength and honor!”
Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son and parliamentarian, said on March 31, 1964, that the military had legally “secured free Brazil.”
To celebrate the coup, a crowd of about 200 nostalgic dictatorships gathered in military uniform in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro. In São Paulo, some small crowds prayed in front of military headquarters and called for another military intervention to give Bolsonaro more power.
“We are here to celebrate the expulsion of Communists from the Brazilian government,” said 32-year-old business owner Ronan Guimarães in Rio. “Some people talk about military dictatorship, but we don’t see it that way. We believe we have been freed from proletariat dictatorship.”
The anniversary took place the day after the meeting with the new Brazilian Defense Minister, the leaders of all three branches of the Brazilian Armed Forces jointly left their jobs. With Bolsonaro’s replacement as former Defense Minister, there was widespread concern about military turmoil in serving the president’s political interests.
On Tuesday night, the country’s new defense minister, General Walter Braga Net, said the coup anniversary should be celebrated.
“The military eventually faced the challenge of taking responsibility for making the country peaceful, reorganizing it, and ensuring the democratic freedom we enjoy today,” Braga Net said.
When he swore to Brazil’s new commander on Wednesday, Braga Net called it a “historic day” without mentioning the coup.
Marcos Noble, a professor of political science at Campinas University, said Bolsonaro’s decision to celebrate a military coup goes beyond ideology and is a way to change the story so that he looks like a cornered anti-system president. He said he could move hard-before the right agenda.
“This week, Bolsonaro lost his ideologically beloved Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo. At the same time, he secured his position in a group of centrists and practical parliamentarians. How did he? Can you explain it to your base? “Noble told The Associated Press. “No one has talked about them since he moved to the military. He fights to celebrate the coup, creating a gap between the general and the soldiers who support him. He is again a dissident. That’s it. “
Bolsonaro has repeatedly expressed his support and admiration for the dictatorship for 28 years in parliament. His decision to commemorate the coup put an end to then President Dilma Rousseff’s request by the military to suspend such an incident in 2011.
It was during the Rusef administration that the Truth Commission on Crime of the Dictatorship was formed. The Commission concluded in 2014 that at least 434 people were killed or disappeared and thousands more were tortured during the dictatorship.
Bolsonaro did not publicly talk about the coup anniversary or military turmoil on Wednesday.
Brazilian media reported that three military chiefs attended a high-level meeting to resign, but were soon dismissed. The replacement, announced Wednesday, is one of the oldest active generals and maintains military tradition and hierarchy.
Former Minister of Justice Jose Carlos Pace, who coordinated the Truth Commission on the dictatorship, said the coup celebration could affect young Brazilians, and many members of the military still tell the story of their predecessors. He said he was accepting.
“Brazil is ill because of a pandemic, and its condition has been exacerbated by this military crisis and today’s celebration by our government,” Diaz said. “I’m scared. At the age of 82, over 50 as a lawyer, I’m scared again. I want to live in democracy. People like me who lived at the time told their children and grandchildren. We must say that we can’t go back to it. “
The Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese reported the story in São Paulo, and the Associated Press writer Diane Gantet reported from Rio de Janeiro. Lucas Dumphreys, an AP video journalist in Rio de Janeiro, contributed to this report.