Over the past week, there have been severe and violent attacks on Brazil's congress, but these assaults were months in the making. These events began on Sunday. People began to storm the Brazilian congress and wreak havoc, creating messes inside offices and condemning the government. At this point, more than a thousand people had been arrested in response to the recent inauguration of Lula de Silva, who returned to power after a 12- year hiatus.
January 6th Capitol Riots
The actions were very similar and possibly influenced by the events at the US capitol on January 6th where Trump supporters raided and created chaos because of a "rigged election". Just like the former president telling his followers that he rightfully won the United States election, Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil, complained about "fake news" regarding his presidency. He held on to the idea that Lula, his opponent in the election, was "untrustworthy and rigged the polling" and that the machines doing the polling were unfit.
This is similar to a claim made by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro was not physically in the country when the riots began to break out. Pimenta (Brazil's presidential communication master) stated the "episode that occurred in Brazil is more serious than what happened at the capitol" because the protestors began their assault on all three powers.
Furthermore, Pimenta said, "In our view, what happened here was not an act against the executive branch. It was an act against democracy, against the Constitution". This is an important topic to learn about because of the severity of attacks on political ideals can be.
On October 28th, 2018, Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil against his extremely controversial opponent, Fernando Haddad, who was very far left, while Bolsonaro was very far right. The voting was very close. Jair Bolsonaro won 55.1% of the vote in the second round. His win concerned many higher powers because of his unpopular opinions on torture and about his political opponents being shot, as well as negative comments against women, minorities, and people from the LGBTQ+ communities.
After his marginal loss, he suggested that it was all due to fraud, just like his ally Donald Trump had said before. The Brazilian electoral court rejected Bolsonaro's attempts to create a petition that would annul ballots, as well as ignoring his comments about voting machines malfunctioning. The Ministry of Defense found no evidence of such claims. Bolsonaro fled the country to Florida after Lula's inauguration and hasn't returned to Brazil since.
January 8th, 2023
The riots began when camera footage showed massive crowds gathering and walking up the ramp into the congressional building. Other protestors were noticed entering the Supreme Court and the Presidential Palace. This is about when the anti-riot police and the Brazilian Armed Forces came into action trying to de-escalate the situation.
Even with higher powers informed, the rioters continued to create destruction by setting off sprinkler systems, trying to set the carpet afire, taking gifts from international delegations, and destroying artwork. That Sunday evening, all three buildings had been rid of protesters and 400 people had been arrested. The current number of people arrested now stands at 1,500.
The protesters were all hardcore protestors of ex-president Bolsonaro who had been resentful of President Lula's win leading up to the destructive behavior of the democratic institutions of Brazil. Stimulated by false claims of election fraud, the supporters wearing Brazil's national colors and jerseys of Brazil's football team, both central to Bolsonaro's campaign, surged into the major government buildings, starting their ruination and blocking themselves from security forces.
The Lead Up
These actions didn't begin from nowhere. Ever since Bolsonaro's defeat, protesters had been camping out and soliciting the capitol. Barriers and guards had to be stationed because of their continued and inconvenient presence.
On December 12, many of the people causing the riots were confronted by security after trying to invade Brazil's police headquarters. These camps filled by Bolsonaro's supporters have been seen in front of many government buildings and military bases. More and more of the supporters were being arrested after being prompted into bad behavior, such as trying to set off bombs or attacking security and important personnel.
Conclusion: What Now?
Lula De Silva, Brazil's current president, described these attacks as "barbaric" and that the lack of security is what had allowed Bolsonaro's supporters to have the ability to breach the barriers set in place. He also added, "These people are everything that is abominable in politics. All the people who did this will be found and punished".
Currently, security is trying to dismantle the camps that were set in place at the start of the riots, or else commanders from the military and police will be held accountable in court. Augusto Aras, the attorney general of the Republic, has requested that the Attorney General's Office in the Federal District open a criminal investigation aimed at finding those accountable for the destruction. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, stated in a Tweet, "I condemn the assault on democracy and the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil.
Brazil's democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined. Currently, 700 more people have been arrested for the attacks, and police and military troops have retaken the office buildings and capitol.
Why this is Important: Your Impact
Teenagers and everyone alike should learn and know about current events to demonstrate and promote critical thinking. These riots are either personal to others or seem worlds away. This issue shows teens the importance of voting as well as how manipulating political power can be. It shows the effect that political issues can have on the environment and community.