BRASILIA – Amid unprecedented security measures, including the deployment of huge numbers of police and army troops around the city, Brasilia woke on Monday with an eye toward the inauguration of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who will take office on Tuesday, opening the door to the halls of power for Brazil’s extreme right.
The fear of a new attack on Bolsonaro, who was stabbed and seriously injured in September at a campaign event, has put authorities on alert and forced them to mount an unprecedented security operation in the Brazilian capital to deal with any potential “threats.”
“He’s a president who suffered ... an attack on his life. Therefore, we have to increase the levels of security, the access ... controls,” Gen. Sergio Etchegoyen, the cabinet minister for Institutional Security who is in charge of the operation, said on Sunday.
As part of the security measures, a presidential decree will allow laser-guided anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) to be readied – as of midnight on Monday – to down any “hostile” aircraft that violate the security cordon in the airspace centered on the site of the inauguration.
The shoot-down orders also apply to drones, which will be targeted by snipers stationed along the Explanada de los Ministerios, the broad avenue on which Brazil’s main government institutions are located, including Congress, where Bolsonaro will take the oath of office.
The Explanada will be surrounded by barbed wire and razor wire to prevent the free circulation of the public – expected to number between 250,000-500,000 – at the ceremony.
Police and army troops surveyed on Monday the area through which Bolsonaro, 63, will move on Tuesday and installed concrete barriers at the entry points to the avenue to prevent the passage of unauthorized vehicles.
It is still not known whether Bolsonaro will travel along the Explanada in a Rolls Royce “Silver Wraith” convertible, as per longstanding tradition, or whether he will do so in an armored limousine after the Federal Police revealed that they are investigating a terrorist threat to stage an attack during the inauguration ceremony.
The final decision will be left to Bolsonaro, who on Tuesday will succeed President Michel Temer after winning the national election last October with 55 percent of the votes over progressive candidate Fernando Haddad, the political protege of imprisoned ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
After leaving Congress, Bolsonaro will receive the presidential sash at Planalto Palace at a ceremony to be attended by 11 heads of state and government, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom the incoming Brazilian leader has strengthened ties.
Numerous other security measures will be implemented for Inauguration Day, including the banning of backpacks, baby carriages, umbrellas, bottles of water and animals, and the public will be subjected to strict screening and searches before they are allowed onto the Explanada de los Ministerios.