Bolsonaro asks for 'erasing the past' and demands amnesty for the January 8 coup plotter

With little political support, the rally in São Paulo was smaller than expected and with few important names

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Bolsonaro and the governor of Goiás, Ronaldo Caiado - NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

On Sunday (25), during an act on Paulista Avenue, former President Jair Bolsonaro (Liberal Party) asked Brazil to “erase the past”, a reference to the coup attempt on January 8, 2023, in Brasilia. He also asked the National Congress to draft a bill to grant amnesty for the plotters. 

"I have a lot to say. There are people who know I would talk. What I'm looking for is pacification, to erase the past. I’m looking for a way to live in peace, not to continue to be alarmed. On the part of the Brazilian parliament, [I want] amnesty for those unfortunate people imprisoned in Brasilia. We no longer want their children to be orphans of living parents," Bolsonaro explained.

The former president insisted on the topic and said that “in the past, we have already granted amnesty for people who committed atrocities in Brazil,” but did not specify to which historical period he was referring. In 1979, a law was used to grant amnesty to state agents who contributed to the dictatorship in the country and committed crimes. 

The declarations were made during a pro-Bolsonaro act. About four blocks of the avenue were occupied for the demonstration, which suggests that Bolsonaro supporters had a smaller turnout than expected.

“It had fewer people than they thought, something expected to be between 500,000 and 700,000 demonstrators. However, it was, indeed, a show of force,” Rudá Ricci, a political scientist, highlights. “I believe Bolsonaro’s discourse was obliterated by Silas Malafaia’s speech.”

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Without any evidence, evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia suggested that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party) knew about the January 8 coup attempt. “I have some questions: first, why did Lula rush from Brasilia to Araraquara (the flood in Araraquara occurred on December 28, 10 days earlier)? Was he warned that there would be riots?", the religious leader asked.

“Malafaia’s declaration was terrible. He suggested that Lula knew about January 8. He crossed the redline on a very sensitive topic. What are the interests of a religious leader in exposing himself that way? Does Malafaia want to be arrested? If so, why? Does he want to say he is being persecuted just like Jesus was? Something isn't clear,” Ricci argues.

Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes included Bolsonaro on the list of those under investigation for the coupist acts of January 8, 2023. For the Moraes, the former president maintained "intense reactions" on social media platforms, which would have encouraged coup plotters.

Quick stop

What was striking was the haste of Valdemar da Costa Neto’s appearance at the event. He is the president of Bolsonaro's Liberal Party. Costa Neto spoke at the rally just 20 seconds before the former president arrived, to avoid a joint photograph.

"I came here to tell you that you made the Liberal Party the largest party in Brazil. Homeland, health and freedom with the family," said Neto, who handed over the microphone and left Paulista Avenue with a party entourage.

Costa Neto was the only party president to show up at the rally. No other political party sent representatives to show support for Bolsonaro. Among the pro-Bolsonaro governors elected in 2022, only four attended the event.

According to CNN Brasil, Costa Neto was told to stay away from controversial topics and Bolsonaro during Sunday's demonstration. That's why he chose to make a quick stop in São Paulo.

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho