Written by Ella Rowe
Edited by Annika Lilja
On Sunday, January 8th, utmost chaos arose in Brazil when thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the capital. Though this was a shock to some, others saw the attack as completely predictable and even inevitable.
What led up to the attack?
When Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of the country, lost the presidential election in October of 2022 by a small margin, supporters became enraged. According to the Wall Street Journal, Da Silva, Bolsonaro’s opposition, acquired 50.9% of the votes, whereas Bolsonaro got 49.1%. Moreover, Bolsonaro questioned the authority and legitimacy of Brazil's institutions- such as accusing the Federal Supreme Court of being politically against him and the voting system of being fraudulent. Though there is no evidence to support these accusations, Bolsonaro’s supporters took his accusations to heart. Since he lost the elections, Bolsonaro has stayed quiet in the public eye. In hopes to confront his electoral defeat, he even fled to Florida. Furthermore, President Biden of the United States has been asked to extradite him, in hopes to force him to confront his supporters and the country of Brazil. With a lack of authority in place, society was distraught. His supporters were angry, citizens were confused, and most of all, no one was taking charge.
Who is the new president of Brazil and why are Bolsonaro supporters against him?
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, often referred to as Lula, is the new president of Brazil, who was inaugurated on January 1st, 2023. For avid Bolsonaro supporters Lula poses a threat to their “democracy,” and his track record doesn't exactly back him. In 2017, Lula was jailed for corruption for 18 months until the convictions were annulled. They claim that Lula is a corrupt politician who belongs in jail, not at the forefront of their country (BBC).
What's the correlation to January 6th?
Many say that this event in Brazil is a direct parallel to the attack on January 6th on the US Capital. Both attacks consisted of devoted supporters for a leader who lost an election. What's more, just like Trump, Bolsonaro is refusing to admit defeat and encouraged his supporters via Twitter, only six hours after the chaos broke out.
What's the punishment for those who participated in this attack?
After the attacks led to civilians gaining control of the presidential palace and Supreme Court, Lula vowed to punish all those involved. So far, hundreds of people have been arrested on account of storming the capital and the government is seeking to find the others. Pictures circulating the internet involve pictures of policemen handcuffing rioters, though officers are also being condemned for making a mockery of this event. Video footage shows officers laughing and taking pictures of the riot, rather than trying to maintain it (BBC).
Today, with artwork destroyed and a lack of political stability, this opaque event offers concerns about the legitimacy of the Brazilian government. Furthermore, with parallels between the American government and the Brazilian Government, the question remains: are protests’ extremist ideas condoned?
Watson, Katy. “What Do the Bolsonaro Protesters in Brazil Want?” BBC News, BBC, 9 Jan. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-64212627.
Ionova, Ana. “Brazilian Authorities Arrested the Rioters. Now They Are Arresting Security Officials.” The New York Times, 11 Jan. 2023, www.nytimes.com/2023/01/10/world/americas/brazil-bolsonaro-riot.html.