Brazilian Congress Riots: How the Attacks Are Similar to the January 6 U.S. Capitol Insurrection

the main points
  • Brazil experienced an insurrection similar to the US Capitol riots on January 6, 2021.
  • It was triggered by allegations of voter fraud from both Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro with familiar allies in both countries.
  • While the two events that unfolded bear striking similarities, there were also notable differences.
Thousands of angry rioters descended on the Brazilian capital over the weekend in scenes that instantly resemble the United States two years ago.
The Presidential Palace in Brazil, the Supreme Court and the National Congress in Brasilia In defiance of the outcome of the October 2022 elections, in which far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was ousted from government.

The overwhelming display of political symbols, color and violence were scenes the world had seen before – almost two years ago – in the United States.

On January 6, 2021, supporters of former US President Donald Trump staged a revolt in the White House after his loss in the 2020 elections which he insisted was due to fraud.

The events that unfolded in the Brazilian capital in recent days immediately resembled the January 6 riots. But while there are eerie similarities between the two events, there are fundamental differences that set them apart.

Allegations of voter fraud and conspiracy against allies

Bolsonaro and Trump possess similar inherently conservative leadership traits.
Trump refused to concede defeat in the 2020 election, while Bolsonaro also kept insisting he was a victim. .

Rather than attend the inauguration ceremony that handed over the presidency to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro ignored the formalities and fled to Florida in the United States.

Trump supporters gathered in the thousands at the US Capitol in defiance of the results of the 2020 election. Source: Washington Post, Getty / Washington Post

A sea of ​​people dressed in green and yellow on the garden of a building.

Bolsonaro supporters create chaos in Brasilia in an attempted coup with the Three Powers Plaza invasion on January 8, 2023. credit: Futuarina/Ceiba USA

The rhetoric parallels were classic examples of takeover populists, said Deborah Barros Leal Farias, an expert on Brazilian politics from the University of New South Wales.

“They were both talking about ‘I am the one who will save the nation’ in a divisive way[and]hijacking national symbols,” said Dr. Farias.

“There is no denying that Bolsonaro has a political responsibility because he has really pushed these people in this direction… He has made this a kind of war for survival,” she said.

The use of encrypted messaging platforms such as Telegram and Signal, as well as the creation of right-wing media platforms such as Gettr, has also contributed to the increase in protests fueled by conservative and nationalist ideologies.

Dr. Farias pointed to Bolsanuro’s son Eduardo, a close friend of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon was jailed for four months for helping to help the January 6 riots and is part of Bolsonaro’s inner circle.

After Brazil’s elections in October 2021, Bannon – who now serves as an advisor to Bolsonaro – claimed on Gettr that da Silva – better known as Lula – “stole” the victory. According to a report by The Washington Post, Bolsonaro’s son spoke with Bannon shortly after losing the election about the importance of the protests.
During Brazil’s protests on Sunday, Bannon described as “freedom fighters”.
“What is undeniable is that there are connections between Bolsonaro and his son in particular, and the people who supported Trump in the executive branch in putting things together,” Farias said.
“There’s reason to really say, ‘This is no accident,'” she said.

Dr Farias said the uncanny similarities between the two countries’ political leaders and their vociferous battle against voter fraud led people to feel “afraid that something terrible was about to happen” after Lula’s narrow election victory.

What’s different?

An important difference between the riots at the US Capitol and the invasion of Brasilia was who was in power at the time.
At the time of the Capitol riot, Donald Trump was still clinging to power — and then-president Joe Biden had yet to be inaugurated.

Dr Farias said Mr Trump was “inciting” his supporters to overturn the election result, encouraging them to “fight like hell” in a speech before the Capitol meeting he organized.

Trump standing on a podium with American flags.

Donald Trump spoke at the ‘Save America’ rally on January 6, 2021 before encouraging his supporters to descend peacefully onto the US Capitol lawn in protest of the loss of the election. Source: Anadolu, Getty / Anadolu Agency

This is in contrast to Brazil, where Lula was sworn in as president on January 1, just over a week before the invasion took place. After Bolsonaro denounced the hooligans on Twitter, he said he was released from a Florida hospital after “new adhesions” on Tuesday.

Previously While a joint statement was issued by all the three heads of state condemning the violence.

“From a very legal perspective, what really happened [the protesters] an act? What will they do? “Lola’s boss (already),” said Dr. Farias.

People in green and yellow in the security building.  A man waves the Brazilian flag.

Protesters opposed the outcome of the 2022 Brazilian presidential election that elected Lula within the National Congress. Source: aap / Agive / Kick USA

“It’s a Pyrrhic victory if you want. They went in there and did all that and everyone was looking, but basically it was really against them because now you actually have all three powers saying, ‘This is no good.'”

Lula declared emergency powers on Sunday, and Brasilia’s governor Ibañes Rocha – widely known as an ally of Bolsonaro – was suspended by the Supreme Court for 90 days.
While 138 police officers were injured and five people were killed in the US riots, there were no injuries in Brazil.
Dr. Farias warned that such events bore the hallmarks of instigating a dangerous precedent that could undermine democracy.
“It’s the paradox of intolerance,” she said. “If you tolerate intolerance, eventually intolerance will win out, and then you won’t have any kind of tolerance.”

“There should be concern about these anti-democratic movements because the trend is escalation.”

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