Bloomberg — Brazil’s Supreme Court, which has become the main target of President Jair Bolsonaro’s fiery rhetoric, reinforced its security to avoid a potential attack during demonstrations expected in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
Around 10,000 police officers have been deployed to prevent riots in Brasilia, where Bolsonaro supporters will hold pro-government rallies following an Independence Day military parade. An anti-drone electronic barrier was also installed to protect the court’s headquarters, a building a few blocks down from where demonstrations are expected to take place, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
Bolsonaro, who is running for re-election, has called on his supporters to attend the parade, which will be followed by pro-government demonstrations. Trailing former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in polls less than a month before the vote, the incumbent is betting on a large show of popular support to boost his stagnated campaign.
A poll by Genial Investimentos and Instituto Quaest published on early Wednesday showed Lula maintaining his vote intention at 44% ahead of the Oct. 2 election, with Bolsonaro gaining to 34% from 32% in late August, within the survey’s margin of error.
Though in recent weeks Bolsonaro had toned down his attacks on the court, over the weekend he called Justice Alexandre de Moraes a “bum” during a speech at an electoral rally. Moraes, the head of the country’s electoral court and a judge responsible for several probes involving the president, is a frequent target of Bolsonaro and his supporters, who criticize him for allegedly moving to curtail freedom of speech.
“We have no support from some Supreme Court justices, much to the contrary, some of them actively support criminals, showing we can become a lawless country,” Bolsonaro said Tuesday during a TV interview, adding that Brazilians’ freedom is at stake in the election.
Last year, Brazilian markets plunged after Independence Day celebrations as Bolsonaro’s threat to disobey the court’s decisions stoked concerns of an institutional crisis. Investors are monitoring Wednesday’s demonstrations as a gauge of potential post-election turmoil.
The 11 justices will stay in Brasilia in case there’s a need for an emergency meeting, and Court’s employees that are scheduled to work will have a special security plan, the people added. The risk of an invasion is considered low, but there are concerns about the possibility of a small group bypassing security, the people said.
The court carried out operations in the past few months to assess potential threats and move to neutralize risks, it said in a statement.
Bolsonaro is expected to fly to Rio de Janeiro later in the day, where a naval parade, an air show and a skydiving exhibition are planned.
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