Thousands of rioters attacked the capitol of Brazil on Sunday—reflecting a leadership and election crisis similar to the one the U.S. faced two years ago.
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro narrowly lost the October 2022 general election to the newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office on January 1. He has promised to reverse many of his predecessor’s decisions and push Brazil in a more progressive direction.
- Bolsonaro, a noted conservative leader widely compared to former President Donald Trump, has contested the election results in the months since, declaring that the election was rigged against him and even encouraging a military coup.
- Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters attacked government buildings on Sunday—including the presidential palace, supreme court, and congress. The crowds were eventually dispersed, and over 1,200 rioters have already been arrested.
Why It’s Important
Brazil is facing a crisis of leadership and distrust similar to the U.S., with thousands of voters losing trust in election integrity and resorting to rioting as a means of pushing back. Many commentators are noting the similarity between Brazil’s January 8 riot to the U.S.’s January 6 Capitol Riot two years ago.
President Lula da Silva has already faced backlash and pressure from Bolsonaro supporters for months, with many thousands of his reporters reportedly camping outside of army bases and pushing for the election to be overturned, Reuters reports. He has declared that the rioters are “terrorists” who will be brought to justice. Brazilian police have enhanced security in the meantime.
Bolsonaro has not conceded the election but did condemn the violence, saying that “Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.” He is currently living in exile in the U.S., staying in a home in Orlando, Florida, where he has stayed to avoid investigations in Brazil since December, The Hill reports.
The Biden Administration is considering expelling him from the country pending an investigation of Sunday’s riots. Several U.S. representatives have called for his extradition, including Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who tweeted, “the U.S. must cease granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida.”
Conservative outlet The Spectator similarly condemned the riots while claiming that Bolsonaro supports have legitimate grievances against the new Lula De Silva government, noting the “socialist icon’s” history of corruption and allegations of “voter fraud.”
“The international media will now set about arguing that the events in Brazil point to a rising wave of anti-democratic sentiment from right-wing extremists inspired by their boogeyman Donald Trump. These fears are not totally unfounded, yet they do not tell the whole story. In this increasingly polarized world, hardliners on the left and the right increasingly have little respect for democracy unless the result goes their way,” says The Spectator.