Brazilians Loyal to Ousted President Go Full MAGA, Assault Capitol: 5 Things To Know

Brazilians Loyal to Ousted President Go Full MAGA, Assault Capitol: 5 Things To Know


Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the Supreme Court building in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Supporters of far-right former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil’s Capitol building on Jan 8 in a scene reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, attempted siege on the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump supporters.

On Oct. 30, 2022, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reclaimed the office. He ran on a campaign of social justice, defeating Bolsonaro some three years after he was released from prison. Lula served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010.

Lula won by less than two percentage points, the closest in Brazilian history. It was the first time an incumbent ran for a second term and lost, The Washington Post reported.

In 2018 was sent to prison to serve a 12-year sentence on separate charges of accepting bribes from one of the country’s major construction companies, something Lula continues to deny. He was released from prison in 2019 after the country’s Supreme Court ruled he had been denied due process. The charges against him were annulled.

Here are five things to know.


1. Arrests made at Capitol

Some 400 people were arrested after Bolsonaro supporters descended on government buildings, breached them, climbed on a rooftop, and broke windows, NBC News reported. 

Bolsonaro supporters refuse to believe Leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was sworn in on Jan. 1, was elected fairly.

2. Lula responds to Capitol attack

Lula called those who attacked Congress “fascists,” according to translations of his tweets, which were in Brazilian Portuguese.

“Whoever did this will be found and punished. Democracy guarantees the right to free expression, but it also requires people to respect institutions,” Lula tweeted. “There is no precedent in the history of the country what they did today. For that they must be punished.” 


3. Why attack the Capitol?

The protest in Brazil were sparked by disinformation about the election, which was found to be conducted fairly by election observers.

In fact, global political observers found that most of the disinformation about the election was targeted against Lula to encourage votes for Bolsonaro.

“The electoral cycle was marked by the use of public resources for campaigning and a sophisticated disinformation network,” the nonprofit Carter Center said in November after having observed the presidential election. “Most attacks targeted the Lula campaign,” it said.


4. MAGA influence

There is a reason the violent scene in Brazil is similar to the MAGA attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Trump aides Stephen K. Bannon and Jason Miller, among others, have been advising the Bolsonaro camp on his next moves, The Washington Post reported.

The former president’s son, Brazilian congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, visited Florida, meeting Trump at Mar-a-Lago. There, he strategized with other political allies by phone, including former Trump strategist Bannon, who at the time, was in Arizona assisting the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Bannon said he spoke with Eduardo about the power of the pro-Bolsonaro protests. Eduardo also dined in South Florida with former Trump campaign spokesman Miller, now CEO of the social media company Gettr, and discussed online censorship and free speech, Miller told The Washington Post.

5. Brazil’s military

Adding to the chaos, while Brazil’s military announced it found no fraud in the election, it refuses to rule it out, according to a new report made public by Brazil’s Defense Ministry. The report showed no fraud or inconsistency in the electoral process, but refused to rule out the possibility entirely, CNN reported.

Since its audit didn’t have complete access to the programs’ source code, the Defense Ministry could not rule out the influence of a malicious code, the report said.

“It is not possible to guarantee that the programs that were executed in the electronic voting machines are free from malicious insertions that alter their intended function,” the ministry said, offering no evidence to suggest such issues existed. The ministry also called on Brazil’s Electoral Court to carry out its own investigation.

Protesters, supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the Supreme Court building in Brasilia, Brazil, Jan. 8, 2023. Protesters who refuse to accept Bolsonaro´s election defeat stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential palace a week after the inauguration of his rival, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)