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Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overturned a police blockade on Monday night in downtown Brasilia, police said, on the eve of massive protests that have put the country on edge.
Battling a record number of polls, Bolsonaro seeks to mobilize his base, especially during protests in Brasilia and Sao Paulo.
The far-right leader plans to attend both rallies on Tuesday, Brazil’s Independence Day, as he tries to pressure the Supreme Court over investigations into him and his entourage.
Hundreds of people who arrived to take part in Tuesday’s protests “broke through containment barriers” and entered the avenue leading to the National Congress and Supreme Court (STF) buildings, Federal District police said.
The avenue had been closed to traffic as a safety measure.
In videos posted to social media and shared by local media, a small caravan of cars and trucks was seen entering the ministries plaza, cheered on by protesters marching and waving Brazilian flags.
“We have just invaded! The police could not contain the people! And tomorrow we will invade the STF,” shouted a marching protester.
The marches monopolized public debate in Brazil, including warnings to avoid something similar to the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro has often made comparisons with Trump.
Police said they were still at the scene. In images broadcast by CNN Brazil, the situation appeared to be under control.
The Federal District government organized an operation with 5,000 police officers to protect public buildings and help prevent riots.
Opposition groups have also called for demonstrations.
Bolsonaro has said in recent days that Tuesday’s rallies should be seen as an “ultimatum” for Supreme Court justices, who have opened several inquiries into him and his entourage, including allegations of systematic dissemination of false news within of the government.
Although they claim the purpose of the protests is to defend “freedom,” many pro-Bolsonaro protesters who have organized themselves on social media plan to chant slogans in favor of attacks on democratic institutions.
Some even call on Bolsonaro to carry out a “military intervention”.
© 2021 AFP