Brazilian authorities are again in control of government buildings attacked by fascist supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, but video from the scene shows extensive damage inside. Thousands of rioters pushed past police lines and broke windows to enter the nation’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential residence. Congress and the court were both in recess, and newly elected President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was touring flood damage elsewhere in the nation. Bolsonaro’s supporters instead vented their frustration on the buildings, furnishings, and exhibited artwork.
Roughly 1,200 Bolsonaro supporters were detained after the attacks, and President Lula, who returned to the capital city of Brasília to survey the damage, promised that the “terrorists” responsible for the destruction “are being identified and punished.”
The demands of the pro-Bolsonaro rioters remain the same: Fueled by hoaxes very similar to those used to incite the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in this country, Bolsonaro’s hard-right allies are demanding the Brazilian military seize power from Lula, nullifying the results of the nation’s last presidential election. The hoaxes have been boosted by Republican elected officials in this nation and by some of the same fascist provocateurs behind Trump’s attempted coup. Social media companies have also played a vital role, with disinformation running rampant on multiple platforms.
The military did not step in, and Brazilian authorities now appear to be moving swiftly to investigate and respond to the attack. Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has suspended the district’s governor for 90 days, publicly accusing district authorities of “consent, and even active participation” in the attacks. Lula, too, is accusing Brasília public security officials of “incompetence, ill will or bad faith.”
The parallels to the Jan. 6 coup are uncanny, but both have followed a standard fascist pattern of promoting disinformation to delegitimize democracy, using those hoaxes as supposed evidence that an authoritarian overthrow of that democracy is “necessary” in order to return the country to (far-right) greatness.
The eagerness of Republican activists and elected officials to help export their anti-democracy hoaxes internationally is also now a consistent pattern; the current war in Ukraine, for example, was preceded by numerous acts to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty on behalf of pro-Russian oligarchs, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson and “conservative” outfits like the Conservative Political Action Committee have boosted anti-democratic Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.
American conservatives have been heavily boosting the Brazilian far-right in specific, with former Trump adviser Jason Miller attending and co-sponsoring an event in Campinas; at the time of Sunday’s riots, former president Bolsonaro himself was in Florida after leaving to attend a New Year’s party in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club rather than attending Lula’s inauguration ceremonies.
Bolsonaro has now reportedly been hospitalized in Florida for acute stomach pain.