Brazilian President Lula da Silva faces a frenzied campaign from the extreme right because of his positions in support of the Palestinian people and his condemnation of the crimes of the Israeli occupation in Gaza (French)

One week after Brazilian President Lula da Silva's statements, on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, in which he accused Israel of committing "genocide" in the Gaza Strip, likening what it was doing there to the "Holocaust of the Jews," his opponent, former President Jair, came out. Bolsonaro and his supporters in São Paulo, in the hundreds of thousands, raising the flags of Brazil and Israel, in a massive demonstration, ostensibly a show of and defense of Bolsonaro’s popularity, and inwardly a courtship of Israel and its revenge for President da Silva’s successive statements.

Last Sunday's demonstrations in São Paulo - the financial capital of Brazil - came within the framework of a call by former right-wing President Bolsonaro to his supporters to protest against the Brazilian judiciary's initiation of interrogation procedures regarding him, regarding the charge of attempting a coup against the results of the fall 2022 presidential elections.

Because of his defeat by his opponent, current President Lula da Silva, in addition to a number of other charges, including mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis, and embezzlement of valuable gifts from the presidential institution.

Political escalation

Although President Bolsonaro required his supporters to wear the uniform of their national football team and not raise slogans against the judiciary, he only allowed the flag of Israel to be raised next to the flag of Brazil, which the international press saw as a flirtatious message to the Israeli government and people, as a reaction to the successive statements of the Brazilian president. Lula da Silva against Israel, and the subsequent political and diplomatic escalation between the two countries.

These demonstrations are considered the first of their kind led by former President Bolsonaro, since his official defeat was announced at the end of 2022, his departure from the country for the United States, and his return in the spring of last year.

Although the charges against him and influential names in the military, political and judicial arena - especially those related to the coup attempt - are almost constant, he and some of them still adopt a method of silence in investigations, and for his part he considers that what the judiciary is doing against him is... In the section “Political Persecution and Prosecution.”

It should be noted that a few months ago, the judiciary issued a ruling against him, preventing him from running for any political position until 2030.

Charged with spreading misleading information, other sentences are likely to be issued soon.

Despite the seriousness of the charges against the far-right President Bolsonaro, his recent movements reflect confidence in the chances of his movement in the upcoming electoral events, the most recent of which are the municipal elections that will be held in October of this year.

Important connotations

In fact, the effectiveness of these movements cannot be underestimated in a country with a voter population of 152 million people, and which is characterized by a prominent division in its ideological orientations. It is sufficient to refer to the results of the recent presidential elections to determine this division, as the current president, da Silva, won in a second round, by a margin of 1.8%. Only on his opponent Bolsonaro.

In addition, the distribution of party weight in the current scene confirms this division, as the movement of former President Bolsonaro has a majority in Parliament, and the two opponents roughly share the provincial and municipal centers, which makes the electoral battles in the country always fierce.

The choice of São Paulo, the largest city in terms of population in South America, and Brazil's financial center, for last Sunday's demonstrations has implications, the most important of which is that its governor, conservative Tercicio de Freitas, is considered the most prominent ally of former President Bolsonaro, as he is a former military man and served as a minister in his government. He resigned to run for the current position, and some opinions from within Brazil suggest that he will be one of Bolsonaro's names for the presidency in 2026, if he continues to be banned from running.

It is clear that Bolsonaro, who is banned from traveling abroad as a judicial precaution, deliberately wanted to send unmistakable messages to his allies outside Brazil, which the Israeli press quickly picked up and appreciated their meaning.

According to the Brazilian press, the evangelical priest Silas Malafaya, who is very popular in Brazil and served as an advisor to Bolsonaro, financed these demonstrations and opened them with an impassioned speech defending the image of the former president, who was at his side with the governor of São Paulo and other prominent right-wing figures.

Calls to withdraw confidence

Far from the apparent goal of this event, former First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro, who is considered a staunch follower of the evangelical pastor Malafaya, was the most vocal with the crowd of supporters who raised the Israeli flag high with the Brazilian flag, and began with a prayer for the “victims of Israel,” and continued to make a tearful call. To bless and protect Israel, saying amidst a sea of ​​tears: “Let us bless Israel, we love Israel, in the name of Christ, Amen!” She added those calls with hints that made the audience chant a vote of no confidence in the current President da Silva, in reference to their overwhelming anger at his positions on Israel.

This is not strange for the former First Lady, Michele Bolsonaro, who does not miss any event without exaggerating in showing her support for Israel. She even went on voting day in the last presidential elections in 2022, wearing a T-shirt with the Israeli flag, and the occasion was national.

What also caught the attention of the international press, in last Sunday’s demonstrations, in addition to raising Israeli flags and protesting President da Silva’s recent statements about what is happening in Gaza, is the greeting that former President Bolsonaro sent to his son, Eduardo, a member of the current parliament, who attended instead. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, which was held last week in Washington, it brought together former US President Trump, the presidents of Argentina and El Salvador, the head of the far-right Spanish “Vox” party, Santiago Abascal, and other names from right-wing movements.

These messages excited the enthusiasm of the audience, and renewed the slogans of the pledge to defeat President da Silva at the earliest opportunity, even before the next presidential elections.

Real threats

Some may consider that the courage that characterized President da Silva’s statements and positions towards Israel’s crimes can only be classified as “Don Quixote’s heroics,” and that the man wants to conclude his last electoral term with an honorable moral and humanitarian harvest, to which none of the world’s presidents has preceded him. Contemporaries.

However, this reading cannot be believed, in light of the presence of real threats that could afflict the man’s term before its expiration date and even destroy the dreams of his party and its supporters, especially since the qualifications of the military establishment and the Israeli lobby, along with evangelical priests, are capable of doing so.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.