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Americas

Missile shield will protect Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro at inauguration parade

  • Security measures will be on par with those deployed during Brazil’s hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 11:53am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 11:53am

Anti-missile defences and warplanes are set to be activated Tuesday as part of a security shield protecting the investiture of Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The measures in, around and over the capital Brasilia will be on par with those deployed during Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup soccer tournament in 2014, or the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

For Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper long an obscure far-right politician before being elected to his country’s highest office in October, the security during his inauguration parade and ceremony are nothing out of the ordinary.

In September, while campaigning, he was almost killed when a mentally unstable man plunged a knife into his abdomen.

On Tuesday, he will proceed along an esplanade in Brazil’s capital in an event attended by at least 10 foreign heads of state and government, and other high-ranking representatives.

Among them will be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who both require heightened protection when travelling.

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A public crowd of between 250,000 and 500,000 is expected to turn out – but umbrellas and backpacks will be forbidden.

Frequencies used to control drones will be blocked, but not mobile phone signals.

Brazilian authorities said more than 3,000 uniformed security personnel will be stationed around the ceremony area, setting up and manning roadblocks and pedestrian checkpoints with metal detectors. They declined to detail other ground measures taken.

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At the same time, the Brazilian air force will deploy more than 20 fighter jets, air force operations chief Ricardo Cesar Mangrich told reporters.

Anti-aircraft missile systems were also to be used, to create a 46km (29-mile) radius off-limits to all but authorised aircraft, with a smaller no-fly “red zone” at its centre, he said.

The Brasilia esplanade, Mangrich said, “is going to be the best-defended area in the history of our aerospatial defence system”.

Brazilian authorities have conducted repetitions to make sure things run smoothly on inauguration day.

On Sunday, a few thousand members of the public, many wearing the green and yellow of Brazil’s flag, tried to watch the last practice run, but were held back by roadblocks.

“We’re a bit disappointed, but it will be better when it happens, in two days’ time,” said Silvia Capital, a 49-year-old Brasilia resident who is hosting family relatives from elsewhere who have come to the capital especially to see the event.