The last South American president who rode in a tank "is in prison. It was Alberto Fujimori in Peru," recalled former Lower House president Maia.
Politicians from different idological stances called the military parade led by President Jair Bolsonaro an attempt to intimidate Congress on the day when lawmakers are scheduled to vote on his proposal to reintroduce paper voting.
On Tuesday, a convoy of armored military vehicles paraded through the Esplanade of the Ministries, an avenue in Brasilia where the main public buildings are located. Since 1988, this annual parade is part of Operation Formosa, which takes place about 300 kilometers from Brasilia. On this occasion, however, the vehicles left from Rio de Janeiro and crossed the streets of Brasilia for the first time.
Accompanied by the three commanders of the Armed Forces, Bolsonaro received the convoy at the gates of the Planalto presidential palace, where he received an invitation to attend the military training that will take place in Formosa on August 16.
To delegitimize the 2022 presidential elections, Bolsonaro maintains that the electronic ballot box encourages "fraud" but has presented no evidence. To facilitate his reelection, the far-right President has been pressuring Congress to pass a mixed voting system with machines and ballots.
BLINDADOS POR BRASÍLIA— Folha de S.Paulo (@folha) August 10, 2021
Desfile de blindados em dia do voto impresso dura 10 minutos e tem Bolsonaro no alto da rampa do Planalto. Ato provocou reação por ocorrer em um momento de tensão institucional entre os Poderes. Vídeos e texto: @RDellaColetta https://t.co/0MtwB1uXW7 pic.twitter.com/VhAQqHxfyJ
The tweet reads, "Armored vehicles run through Brasilia. On the day of the discussion about paper voting, the armored parade lasts 10 minutes and keeps Bolsonaro at the top of the Planalto ramp. The act provoked a reaction as it occurred at a time of institutional tension between the branches of the State."
Reactions to this display of strength were immediate. Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria affirmed that the “unprecedented and unnecessary parade of war tanks” is a "clear threat to democracy."
Former President Lula da Silva considered it "unacceptable" that the Armed Forces allow its institutional image to be used to support the political maneuver of Bolsonaro, who has threatened to break the democratic order frequently.
Even a conservative politician such as former Lower House president Rodrigo Maia harshly criticized Bolsonaro and compared him to Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori. "The last president who rode in a tank ended his administration badly and he is in prison. It was Alberto Fujimori in Peru," said Maia.
In response to the criticism, the Navy said the Operation Formosa parade was planned before the vote in the Lower House plenary and that there is no "link" between the two events.