Brazil. Bolsonaro’s pardon attracts opposition protests | Political news
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has pardoned a lawmaker convicted of calling for violence against Supreme Court justices.
Brazil’s opposition parties have challenged far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to pardon a political ally convicted of attacking the country’s democratic institutions and inciting violence against Supreme Court justices.
Inciting protests against executive overreach, Bolsonaro pardoned lawmaker Daniel Silveira on Thursday evening, just a day after he was found guilty of hate speech for seeking the overthrow of the Supreme Court.
The center-left Rede Party on Friday filed a petition with the Supreme Court to overturn Bolsonaro’s decree, published in the official gazette, which it deemed “unconstitutional”. The left-leaning Democratic Labor Party and the Socialism and Freedom Party have taken similar actions.
Bolsonaro said in his weekly Facebook address on Thursday that he pardoned Silveira “in the name of freedom of expression, an essential pillar of our society.”
Silveira, 39, was arrested in February last year for allegedly plotting “acts intended to harm [the Supreme Court] and the democratic rule of law” after uploading a video defending Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and saying the judges deserved “a beating”.
The Supreme Court condemned him Wednesday by 10 votes against one for incitement to physical attacks against judges, as well as other authorities. He was also stripped of his seat in Congress and barred from running for any office in the October elections.
“The constitution does not allow freedom of expression to be used as a shield for hate speech and attacks on institutions,” Judge Alexandre de Moraes said.
This episode is the latest in a long campaign by Bolsonaro and his supporters against the country’s Supreme Court.
The far-right leader accused Supreme Court justices of partisanship, saying they favored leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is expected to challenge Bolsonaro in the next election.
The Supreme Court has ordered investigations into Bolsonaro’s baseless election fraud allegations, which critics say the president peddled in a bid to sow mistrust in the process before recent polls showed his likely defeat facing Lula.
“Bolsonaro has just turned the institution of pardons into an institutional disgrace,” Brazilian politician Ciro Gomes, who finished third with less than 10%, said on Twitter of Silveira’s pardon.
“He is trying to accelerate his march towards a coup. But he won’t succeed,” Gomes said.
Political commentators say there have been very few individual pardons like the one given to Silveira since the constitution came into effect in 1988. They are usually given collectively, around Christmas, to inmates nearing the end of their sentence. .
After his election in 2018, Bolsonaro promised to scrap presidential pardons altogether.