Jair Bolsonaro Leads Demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Praises Elon Musk

Former Brazilian President Bolsonaro rallied thousands in Rio, praising Elon Musk for defying court orders to suspend accounts on X (Twitter). This highlights Brazil's political divisions and the legal battle over free speech on social media.

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Waqas Arain
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Jair Bolsonaro Leads Demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Praises Elon Musk

Jair Bolsonaro Leads Demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Praises Elon Musk

On April 21, 2024, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro led a rally in Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, calling for freedom of expression. The rally was attended by thousands of Bolsonaro's die-hard supporters and was spurred by Brazilian court orders to suspend accounts on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

Elon Musk, the CEO of X, was praised at the rally for his stance against the court orders, which he said were suppressing free speech and violating Brazil's constitution.

Bolsonaro lauded Musk for demonstrating "courage" in the face of what he called censorship by the Brazilian Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes, who has included Musk in an ongoing investigation and opened a new inquiry into obstruction, incitement, and criminal conspiracy.

Several speakers at the rally, including pro-Bolsonaro congressman Gustavo Gayer, also praised Musk. Bolsonaro himself thanked Musk for preserving "true freedom" for Brazilians and standing up against "dictators."

The rally highlighted the ongoing tensions between Bolsonaro, his supporters, and the Brazilian government. Bolsonaro is currently under investigation for a range of crimes, including aiding an effort to overturn the 2022 election results and plotting a coup against his leftist successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Why this matters: The demonstration in Rio de Janeiro underscores the deep political divisions in Brazil and the role of social media in the country's fraught political landscape. The legal battle between Elon Musk and Brazil's Supreme Court also has implications for the limits of free speech and the spread of disinformation on social media platforms.

Organizers estimated the attendance at the rally to be 100,000 people, though authorities did not provide an official tally. Brazil is an important market for social media companies, with about 18% of the population accessing X at least once per month. The rally was seen as Bolsonaro's attempt to project political strength in the face of the increasing likelihood of his imprisonment, as he faces a series of criminal investigations.

Key Takeaways

  • Bolsonaro led a rally in Rio, praising Musk for opposing court orders to suspend X accounts.
  • Musk is under investigation by Brazil's Supreme Court for obstruction, incitement, and conspiracy.
  • The rally highlighted Brazil's political divisions and the role of social media in the country's politics.
  • The rally was seen as Bolsonaro's attempt to project political strength amid criminal investigations.
  • Brazil is an important market for social media, with 18% of the population using X monthly.