At the beginning of the year, the world went around the horrifying footage of the storming of government buildings in the capital of Brazil by numerous supporters of the country's ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, who in October lost the elections to left-wing candidate Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
There were more attackers than law enforcement officers. They managed to capture three buildings at once, representing the three branches of government: the presidential palace of Planalto, the Congress and the Supreme Court, created by the brilliant Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
The authorities had to mobilize not only 8,000 police officers from the state of Brasilia, but also law enforcement officers from neighboring states. It took them several hours to clear the buildings. Inside, an eerie picture of vandalism and the destruction of priceless art was revealed. At first it was reported that 400 people were detained. Then this figure jumped to 1,200. Now, as the New York Times notes, there are already 1,500 detainees.
Mass riots and an attempted coup in Brazil were expected, but it was assumed that they would occur either after the autumn elections, or immediately after the inauguration of Lula on January 1. However, the conspirators waited until 8 January. They stayed for weeks in tent camps next to the military barracks, made contact with the military and demanded that they overthrow the government and cancel the election results.
Brazilian politicians and journalists are perplexed: how did the authorities allow so many people to come so close to the main buildings of the country? Justice Minister Flavio Dino says he held a meeting with the heads of several security agencies three days before the attack. They expected a mutiny might break out on Sunday, but their defense strategy didn't work. Now representatives of the federal government are accused of criminal negligence and even complicity with the attackers of the Governor of the state of Brasilia Ibanez Rosho and his deputies. The Supreme Court of the country removed Rosha from his duties for a period of 90 days, an investigation is underway.
But it is not only about the miscalculations of local authorities and security agencies. Sunday events are unique in Latin America. Unlike all other coup attempts, this attack on Brazilian democracy had no leader, some "strong man" from among the military. This uprising had a deep root cause - it was spawned by the mass belief that the presidential election was rigged.
The uprising grew out of a popular belief that the presidential election was rigged.
Social networks played a leading role in preparing for the coup d'état. Telegram channels were calling for Brazilians to join the "War Cry Party", which was supposed to capture at least six states of the country and establish their control there. “We need two million fighters! Patriots! We are already organizing the Freedom Caravan with 1,000 buses,” the messages said.
There were especially many far-right influencers on Twitter. By the way, according to the Brazilian media, Elon Musk fired almost the entire staff of the network in Brazil after the purchase. Employees moderated posts for calls to violence and the overthrow of power.
After Bolsonaro’s defeat in the elections, his supporters blocked the main highways of the country many times, and in the camps next to the military barracks they hung out “Stolen Election” (“Stolen Elections”) billboards, which only emphasized the analogy with the slogans of Trump and his supporters in the United States.
The fact that what happened in Brazil is too clearly reminiscent of the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters two years ago was noted by all, without exception, both Brazilian and American politicians and journalists. “Exporting Trumpism to Brazil: The slogan is the denial of the election results,” was the title of Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.
“Instead of serving the world as a model of democracy, the United States teaches the lessons of election denial and, on this basis, provokes widespread popular discontent, which gradually becomes more and more violent,” he writes.
The parallels between the attack on the Capitol and the current events in the Brazilian capital are indeed striking. Both there and there, the ultra-right refused to admit defeat in the elections. And there, and there was active preparation for the so-called "direct action" to change the results of the vote. In both the US and Brazil, the targets were national shrines, symbols of democracy.
Of course, there is also some difference. When the Capitol was seized, Donald Trump was still president and he called for those who believe that “the election was stolen from him” to gather in Washington, while he himself watched the scenes of the barbaric attack on the citadel of democracy on TV from his office in the White House. Jair Bolsonaro, who is called "tropical Trump", left the country a week before the rebellion and settled in the US state of Florida, near Orlando. He was first spotted at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken, but yesterday the ex-president's wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, posted on Instagram that her husband was in a local hospital.
The place chosen by Bolsonaro has the largest colony of immigrants from Brazil. “We are all Bolsonarists here, always have been, and always will be,” says local resident Maria Para Cavalcante. “Bolsonaro was the best president of the country in 30 years.” Most citizens of the country, however, believe that he was the worst, most unscrupulous, selfish narcissist with obvious authoritarian tendencies who openly praised the military dictatorships that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. He also despised those who called for masks and quarantine during the worst months of the pandemic. As a result, 687 thousand people died from coronavirus in the country.
Now Jair Bolsonaro has tried to distance himself from the rebels, whom he urged after the elections not to recognize the results of the vote. “Peaceful demonstrations are part of democracy,” he tweeted. “This, like breaking into government buildings, as leftists did in 2013 and 2017, is illegal.”
But no matter what he says now, both in Brazil and in the United States he is considered responsible for the violence that occurred. Several Democratic US congressmen have also drawn direct parallels between Bolsonaro and Trump. "Domestic terrorists and fascists should not be allowed to use Trump's textbooks on undermining democracy," says Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Foreign Policy Committee. The congressman calls on the Biden administration to deport Bolsonaro to Brazil, where he must stand trial for multiple cases of incitement to violence.
The former President of Brazil was and remains in the orchestra, the conductor of which is the main far-right of the world - Donald Trump. This gloomy network, which is gradually entangling, as we see, the largest country in Latin America, includes many former close associates of the businessman.
Former Trump aide Steve Bannon applauds Brazilian uprising participants He calls those who smashed government buildings “freedom fighters” on the social network Gettr. Bannon spent months on his War Room podcast supporting Bolsonaro's supporters, who camped near the barracks, in every possible way and set them up for anti-government actions.
In addition, he met in the United States with Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, who is a congressman, and urged him not to admit the defeat of his father. In essence, Bannon was giving instructions to Edouard Bolsonaro on how to deal with an anti-government uprising.
Bannon played an active role in organizing the riots in January 2021 when, through social media, he called for the mobilization of his supporters, who were to stage a grand march in Washington. In October last year, he was sentenced to 4 months in prison for expressing contempt for Congress for refusing to appear at a committee hearing that was investigating the January 6 events. However, while the appeal process is ongoing, he is at large.
According to American political scientists, the Brazilian rebels may have been waiting for the election of the speaker of the US House of Congress, Kevin McCarthy, to end. He was chosen only on the 15th attempt (the hearings lasted for four whole days). The Speaker was opposed by a small but extremely aggressive group of two dozen Trumpists who left him short of the votes he needed. He was elected after making huge, crucial concessions to the most rabid far-right, Trump supporters, who have won important positions on a number of House committees.
It happened on January 7th. The next day, thousands of rebels staged a riot in the capital of Brazil.
Now the country is calm. The rebel camps next to the barracks were dismantled.
President Joe Biden expressed full solidarity with President Lula da Silva. “We fully support the democratic institutions of Brazil, the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined,” he wrote on Twitter. Biden himself invited Lulu to Washington in February.
“The comparison between what happened two years ago in Washington and current events in Brazil is ominous and frightening,” writes the Washington Post. — In the largest country in Latin America, there was a spasm of fascist authoritarianism. Was he the last? Or maybe it was an omen that something worse would happen in the future?