Elon Musk Hailed 'New Hero' by Brazil's Ex-President Jair Bolsonaro, Praised for His Courage Over Freedom of Speech

By Madz Dizon

Apr 21, 2024 09:02 PM EDT

Elon Musk Hailed 'New Hero' by Brazil's Ex-President Jair Bolsonaro, Praised for His Courage Over Freedom of Speech
X (formerly Twitter) CEO Elon Musk raises his arms during the Atreju political meeting organised by the young militants of Italian right wing party Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia) on December 16, 2023 at the Sant'Angelo Castle in Rome.
(Photo : ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative Brazilians heaped appreciation on Elon Musk Sunday during a rally in favor of former President Jair Bolsonaro, whose legal issues are worsening alongside the billionaire entrepreneur's fight with the South American country's Supreme Court.

"Brazil Thanks Elon Musk," read one large English sign at the rally on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters attended.

Brazilians Laud Elon Musk Over 'Freedom of Speech'

Elon Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, is the subject of an ongoing investigation for the spread of fake news by Bolsonaro supporters.

According to AP News, Musk stated that the social network X would not comply with a high court justice's order to erase certain users suspected of disseminating disinformation.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX who took over Twitter (now X) in late 2022, accused Justice Alexandre de Moraes of restricting free speech and violating the Brazilian constitution. He mentioned on X that users might try to avoid any closure of the social networking platform by using VPNs, or virtual private networks.

That prompted de Moraes to include Musk in an ongoing investigation against so-called digital militias, as well as launch a new probe for obstruction, provocation, and criminal conspiracy.

Musk's online campaign against Moraes, who has retaliated by involving the X owner in an investigation into the online propagation of fake news, has infuriated progressive Brazilians, who believe it is part of a deliberate multinational plot to destabilize Brazil's leftwing administration.

Gleisi Hoffmann, the chairman of the ruling Workers' Party, described Musk's "truculent offensive" as an attack on the rule of law intended to support Brazil's far right. Janja Lula da Silva, the first lady, has accused X of being involved in "a coordinated operation against democracy".

However, Musk has enthralled Bolsonaro supporters, who accuse Moraes of pursuing an anti-constitutional campaign against far-right influencers, politicians and activists. In recent years, Moraes has directed social media companies, including X, to block dozens of accounts belonging to Bolsonaro's allies or followers, as well as the arrest of a number of personalities associated with the former president.

On Sunday, Musk's image and name were everywhere as tens of thousands of Bolsonaro supporters gathered on Rio's Copacabana beach to pay tribute to both men.

As Bolsonaro prepared to address the crowd gathered outside coastal apartment buildings decorated with yellow and green Brazil flags, a series of right-wing politicians and preachers praised Musk.

Bolsonaro praised the South African-born businessman for his boldness in exposing the decline of democracy and loss of freedom.

Analysts said Sunday's beachside demonstration was Bolsonaro's latest attempt to demonstrate political power in the face of a mounting risk of imprisonment.

Bolsonaro, who was president from 2019 to 2023, has been barred from standing for office and is facing a number of criminal investigations, the most serious of which concerns an alleged plot to topple the government following his 2022 electoral loss to Lula.

READ NEXT: TikTok Ban: US Passes Bill That Could Lead to Prohibition of Chinese App Unless Bytedance Divest Ownership 

Probe Against Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Last year, a Senate investigation said Bolsonaro was the mentor of "a wilful and premeditated coup attempt" that tried to plunge Latin America's greatest democracy into political chaos and possibly civil war in order to maintain power.

Bolsonaro rejected the assertions on Sunday, issuing a rallying cry similar of Donald Trump's "fight like hell" exhortation to supporters prior to the January 6 Capitol takeover.

Despite the bombast, Sunday's march was significantly smaller than previous demonstrations and paled in comparison to the thumping show put on by political force Bolsonaro on the same stretch of beach prior to the 2022 election.

Then Copacabana became so crowded that Bolsonaristas took to the sea in speedboats and jetskis to get a better view of their boss. While Bolsonaro was still delivering his half-hour speech on Sunday, several supporters began to leave for home or local clubs, according to The Guardian.

Brazil is a major market for social media companies. According to the market research firm Emarketer, over 40 million Brazilians, or roughly 18% of the population, use X at least once each month. 

READ MORE: US Committee Reveals Secret Brazil Court Orders to Elon Musk's X Regarding Account Suspensions 

© 2024 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics