(NEW YORK POST) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defied his own administration’s social distancing recommendations to join protesters against lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The right-wing leader, who was not wearing a face mask, addressed a tightly-packed crowd Sunday in front of the army’s headquarters in the capital city of Brasilia.
“I am here because I believe in you. You are here because you believe in Brazil,” said Bolsonaro, who referred to the dozens of protesters as “patriots.”
Protesters on Sunday rallied against the country’s Supreme Court, which has upheld lockdowns implemented by state governors, and against Congress, whose lawmakers have also defended quarantines.
“Everyone in Brazil needs to understand that they are subject to the will of the people,” Bolsonaro said.
Some protesters have called for the return of authoritarian measures used during the country’s last military regime, known as AI-5.
“It is frightening to see demonstrations for the return of the military regime, after 30 years of democracy,” Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso wrote on Twitter.
Brazil has reported more than 39,000 cases of COVID-19 with a death toll reaching nearly 2,400, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.