Brazil Elections Julia Conley

With Echoes of Jan. 6, Thousands of Bolsonaro Supporters Storm Presidential Offices

"The insurrection in Brazil can be directly tied to Trump and the Republicans' emboldening of fascism and violent extremism," said one progressive U.S. lawmaker.
Jair Bolsonaro in 2016. Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons

By Julia Conley / Common Dreams

Brazil on Sunday faced “its own January 6,” one progressive journalist said as thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the presidential offices and the nation’s Congress in Brasilia a week after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, was sworn in.

Lula was in São Paulo at the time of the attack and Congress was not in session.

The attack followed months of protests by Bolsonaro supporters, who claim the election Lula won in October was stolen. Bolsonaro spent much of his presidential campaign making false claims about the integrity of the country’s electoral system. The former right-wing president reluctantly accepted defeat days after the election, but in late November he officially contested Lula’s victory, citing an issue with the software used in the voting system, despite independent experts’ reports that it had no effect on the election’s outcome.

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Although lawmakers in Brasilia were not forced to run and hide from the protesters as American members of Congress were on January 6, 2021 when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and tried to stop the certification of the presidential election, observers said the scene unfolding on Sunday was “eerily familiar.”

The storming of the Brazilian government buildings turned violent as some of the protesters were filmed striking a police officer on horseback and pulling him off his horse. The Metropoles media group also reported that a photojournalist was attacked by the mob, and some of the protesters set a carpet on fire in the Chamber of Deputies, the country’s lower house of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said the insurrection underway in Brazil “can be directly tied to Trump and the Republicans’ emboldening of fascism and violent extremism.”

Lula announced he would sign an emergency order allowing the federal government to intervene in the attack, and said Bolsonaro’s rhetoric “stimulated” the siege.

“President Lula’s election was a victory for economic justice and multiracial democracy over right-wing authoritarianism,” said the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the United States. “Just as we did on January 6, we must all denounce this attack, political violence, and those encouraging it.”

Although Lula has already been sworn in, unlike U.S. President Joe Biden on the January 6 attack, Brian Winter of Americas Quarterlyposited that Bolsonaro’s supporters are likely hoping the Brazilian military will intervene and then “take protesters’ side and ultimately install Bolsonaro again as president.” For months they have been calling on the armed forces to take control of the government and stop Lula from taking office.

Brian Klaas, a global politics professor at University College London, said the apparent attempted insurrection in Brazil is an example of “authoritarian learning.”

“Trump taught the world how to do January 6,” said Klaas. “Brazil won’t be the last one.”

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Julia Conley
Julia Conley

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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