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Brazilians March to ‘Defend Democracy’

#Brazilians #March #Defend #Democracy

Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Thursday in “defense of democracy” after President Jair Bolsonaro launched sustained attacks on democratic institutions weeks before the elections.

The demonstrations were prompted by fears that the far-right leader, who is lagging behind in opinion polls, would not respect the outcome of October’s vote as he repeatedly seeks to cast doubt on Brazil’s electoral system.

“After 200 years of independence in Brazil, we should be thinking about our future… but we are focused on preventing a regression,” University of Sao Paulo rector Carlos Gilberto Junior told a gathering of hundreds of academics, business and academics union leaders and members of civil society.

Thousands held up banners in front of the campus denouncing Bolsonaro and proclaiming: “Respect the vote, respect the people.”

Some were disguised as electronic voting machines, the exclusive use of which Bolsonaro says makes cheating easier.

“Our president has already indicated that he will do everything to prevent elections,” 62-year-old architect Sabrina Cunha told AFP.

“I was from the student movement during the military dictatorship (1964-1985), I know what to expect,” she added.

A video was shown at the university meeting in which Brazilian artists read from a petition “in defense of the democratic rule of law”.

The document has garnered more than 900,000 signatures since it was posted online weeks ago.

“We are witnessing a moment of great jeopardy to democratic normality, a risk to institutions, with hints of non-compliance with election results,” the text reads.

Demonstrations were also planned in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

Voters in Brazil cast their ballots electronically at polling stations.

But Bolsonaro has long advocated a hard copy of every vote cast, suggesting the lack of a paper trail allows for fraud.

He has presented no evidence of fraud and the Supreme Electoral Court insists the system is fair and transparent.

Last month, Bolsonaro reiterated his claims at a meeting with foreign ambassadors, later prompting the US embassy to say Brazil’s electoral system is a “model for the world.”

His repeated attacks have led analysts to fear Bolsonaro may refuse to accept defeat like his former American counterpart Donald Trump, whose supporters stormed the US Capitol after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

Several Brazilian business associations have also issued public letters of concern, including the Brazilian Bankers Federation (Febraban) and the Sao Paulo State Industry Federation (Fiesp).

This is seen as a setback for Bolsonaro, who received a lot of support from business when he was elected in 2018.

Bolsonaro is 18 points behind former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the favorite to win the election, according to the latest Datafolha opinion poll published on July 28.

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#Brazilians #March #Defend #Democracy

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