(CNN)Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has defended his participation in a public protest against coronavirus lockdown measures, saying that he was not calling for military action against the country's other branches of government.
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro defends joining anti-lockdown protest
Sunday's protest, which was held in Brasilia outside the army's headquarters, gathered dozens of Bolsonaro supporters wearing the country's emblematic yellow and green. Large signs, including one reading "military intervention with Bolsonaro in power," were visible in a livestream of the event posted to the president's personal Facebook page.
In the video, Bolsonaro can be seen at the rally without a mask waving at the crowd and coughing at times. "I'm here because I believe in you. You are here because you believe in Brazil," Bolsonaro said during the live stream, while standing on top of a white pickup truck.
The rally was a protest against quarantine measures imposed by some state governors, Bolsonaro said at a press conference on Monday outside the Alvorada presidential residence in Brasilia.
The state of Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial capital and the state worst-hit by Covid-19, has extended quarantine measures until May 10 for commerce, schools and all nonessential businesses. In Rio de Janeiro state, quarantine measures are set to remain in place through April 30.
Bolsonaro told reporters that he never encouraged military intervention and that his support of the protest had been misinterpreted.
"I respect the Supreme Court, I respect the Congress -- but I am entitled to my opinions and some people can't just interpret anything I say as an act of aggression," Bolsonaro told reporters and supporters. "Usually, when people are conspiring against someone it's to reach a position of power. I'm already in power. I'm already the president."
Anyone carrying "anti-democratic signs" was an exception, he suggested. "In any given march, there are people who will infiltrate. People have a right to freedom of speech," Bolsonaro said. "I didn't say anything against any other power of government, quite the contrary. We want to return to work. Th