Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday said he had asked the Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo to keep the Armed Forces on alert in the event of protests in Brazil similar to those taking place in Chile.
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"I spoke with the Defense Minister about the possibility of having demonstrations... similar to those happening in Chile," Bolsonaro said and warned that "we are ready to to use the Article 142 of the Constitution to keep law and order."
After a meeting with representatives of the Brazilian community in Tokyo, Japan, Bolsonaro spoke with journalists and defended the reform of the anti-terrorism law, which is being studied at the Congress.
The far-right president considers that the law currently in force excludes "social movements" from of the list of legal subjects that could be accused of terrorism.
“In the past they put a comma in the definition of terrorist acts [and left out] social movements. This cannot happen,” Bolsonaro said and added that "if sanctions are tough, such actions will not happen. Brazil is not free from having problems similar to Chile."
"Bolsonaro says that protests in Chile happen because the dictatorship is over. The president believes that the reason for demonstrations is that protesters are contrary to U.S. policies."
Bolsonaro also accused the Workers' Party (PT) lawmaker Humberto Costa, whom he called dwarf, of agitating the Brazilian people.
“We are concerned about [the situation] in almost every South American country. The last boiling country is Chile," the Brazilian president said and added that "despite his height, Humberto Costa, a dwarf senator, is inciting the masses towards confrontation.”
Local outlet Estadao holds that some in the Brazilian military seem worried about a likely "contamination" in the country by what happens in Ecuador and Chile, especially at times when the Brazilian economy is not performing well.
Social unrest in Brazil can be aggravated by Bolsonaro administration's inability to reduce unemployment rates, which are currently around 12 percent in the majority of cities.
Bolsonaro also pointed out that, due to the moment South America is going through, armies have to "potentiate" themselves so as to anticipate events and prevent the left from coming to power.
"We cannot be taken by surprise. We must have the ability to anticipate problems ... [the intention of social movements] is to attack the United States and help each other so that leftist parties rise," the far-right Brazilian president said.
"In South America we are living a difficult time. The radical left, which is desperate for its defeat, will play everything to agitate the countries of the region. It will try to return to power in any way and lead us to the abyss that we have stopped."