Former Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro led a rally of conservative supporters yesterday to drum up support for allied candidates in this year’s municipal elections and project his influence ahead of the 2026 presidential race.
“We want Bolsonaro back,” chanted some in the crowd of 3,500 people that wants to see him back in power though he was banned from seeking elected office until 2030 for attacks on democracy.
The CPAC Brasil 2024 event at the beach resort of Balneario Camboriu in Southern Brazil is the first major opposition rally of the campaign for local mayoral elections in October.
“We will bring Bolsonaro back. This political war begins in the local town councils,” said Fernanda Abati, a councilwoman for Porto Alegre city.
The CPAC meeting has a regional dimension with the expected presence of Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei and former Chilean right-wing presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast.
“It will be very important for us to once again bring together Conservatives with a liberal view of the economy to discuss the future of the right-wing in Brazil,” said former environment minister Ricardo Salles on CPAC Brasil social media.
Salles said the right is advancing in the United States, in Europe and in Latin America with Argentina’s Milei.
Bolsonaro spoke briefly and plans to close the rally today afternoon with Milei.
Bolsonaro lost his re-election bid to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and has been banned from running for elected office until 2030 due to his attacks on Brazilian democracy and its electronic voting system.
Despite being under investigation for his alleged role in encouraging supporters to storm government buildings a week after Lula took office in January last year, Bolsonaro still maintains a large following that share his right-wing views, which he successfully broadcasts on social media.
With funding from his right-wing so-called Liberal Party, Bolsonaro draws crowds wherever he goes to back candidates for the upcoming local elections. “Bolsonaro supporters are excited about this CPAC rally that will boost his movement,” a source close to the former president told Reuters.
Guilherme Casaroes, a political scientist at the FGV think-tank in Sao Paulo, said the presence of Milei and Kast shows that Bolsonaro and his political associates want Brazil to become a hemispheric hub for far-right coordination.
“The CPAC event will serve as a platform for Brazil’s extremists to make their narrative global, building on the idea that conservatives across the hemisphere are being persecuted by left-wing governments and by authoritarian courts,” he said.
Casaroes said the venue was chosen in Santa Catarina state because it has become “a pro-Bolsonaro bunker” much like Florida is to former Trump and the US far right.
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