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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro celebrated his nation’s Independence Day with the embalmed heart of the Portuguese king who declared Brazil independent 200 years ago.
The embalmed heart of Pedro I is suspended in formaldehyde inside a golden jar. It made the trip from Europe on a Brazilian air force plane on Monday, and it was carried into the Presidential Palace with all the fanfare of a visiting head-of-state.
Pedro I was the founder and liberator of Brazil, and governed briefly over Portugal as Pedro IV. He declared Brazil’s independence in 1822, but the imperial rule would not be truly thrown off until 1889.
“We lost a little of our reference of Brazil’s founders, what they represented, what they thought, what they hoped for Brazil. It is very important to bring some of that back,” Lawmaker Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Bragança said Monday, according to the Associated Press.
He added that the heart “was a demand of a part of our society, which wants a historical redemption.”
Pedro’s heart has been inside the Church of Our Lady of Lapa in Portugal since his death in 1844, as per his request.
The arrival of the heart comes as Bolsonaro is running for re-election. Bolsonaro has become a polarizing figure in the country, with many comparing him to former President Donald Trump.
Bolsonaro has made a habit of mocking and even threatening the media. He once stated that a reporter had a “homosexual’s face.” When another reporter asked about the financial relationship between one of his aides and his wife, Bolsonaro threatened to attack him.
“I want to punch you in the face, OK?” he said during the interview.