Juliane Freitas sits on a colorful plastic horse and waves the Brazilian flag. “God, freedom, fatherland!” the pensioner rejoices while her friends laugh and film the scene on their mobile phones. The rallying cry has no connection with the Independence Day that Brazilians celebrate. For one, has Brazil won its independence from the Portuguese royal family exactly 200 years ago in a war and on horseback. On the other hand, Freitas didn't come to Copacabana Beach for Independence Day at all. "I'm here because of Bolsonaro," she says, adding that she thinks he's the best president in history. He freed Brazil from corruption and communists. That's why the corrupt wanted to get rid of him. "But we won't allow that."
Freitas is one of hundreds of thousands taking to the streets this Independence Day. In Rio de Janeiro, the seafront promenade has evolved from Copacabana transformed into a yellow-green sea of people. Loudspeaker trucks are in position, interspersed with street vendors selling drinks, food and a wide range of Bolsonaro accessories. Warships cruise in the bay behind the beach, parachutists plunge into the depths, followed by an air show. Hourly cannon salvos shake the windows of the hotels on the world-famous beach. Everything is waiting for the President. A little later he appears to the cheers of the spectators on the VIP stand, surrounded by generals and representatives of the Brazilian imperial family, whose ancestor Pedro I had separated from the Portuguese royal family in 1822.