What’s happening in Brazil

Mikhail Katkov

Radicals supporting ex-president Jair Bolsonaro seized several government buildings in the capital, including the residence of the head of state, the Planalto Palace. They do not recognize the election victory of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. And his supporters accuse the protesters of attempting a coup d’état in order to establish a fascist dictatorship.
In the footsteps of Trump
The rebels demanded to review the results of the presidential elections, in their opinion, rigged. About four thousand people atta-cked the Supreme Court, p-arliament and the presidential residence. More than 4-00 have already been deta-ined. At least 46 were injured.
When the riots arose, da Silva was on a working visit to Sao Paulo, the most populous and developed state of Brazil. There he assessed the consequences of the floods. But, having learned about the protests, he immediately returned to the capital and visited the attacked buildings. He ass-ured that the pogroms wo-uld not happen again. “We will find out who financed those who went to Brasilia today, and they will all pay according to the law,” the president promised.
According to one of the most common versions, Bolsonaro was behind the riots, who at that time was in the United States and even condemned the seizure of government buildings. Peaceful demonstrations are an integral part of democracy, he said, but what happened on January 8 violated the established order. At the same time, the ex-head of state said that the leftists did the same in 2013 and 2017.
The Supreme Court of Brazil ordered the military to eliminate the tents of the rebels within 24 hours. Chief Justice Alexandre de Moraes called them “terrorist camps” that are financed with the non-intervention of the authorities. For failure to comply with the order, the Minister of Defense and the command of the armed forces will be held accountable.
International reaction
The world powers sided with da Silva. In particular, Joe Biden called the prote-sts outrageous, and the he-ad of the EU foreign service, Josep Borrell, noted th-at “violent extremists” seiz-ed the buildings. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ac-cused Bolsonaro’s supporters of attacking democracy.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez urged South American countries to prevent “the return of the specter of a right-wing coup”. Colombian President Gustavo Petro spoke even more frankly: he said that the Brazilian fascists had attempted a coup d’état. The head of Chile, Gabriel Boric, called the attack “cowardly and heinous” and was ready to send special forces to help the Brazilian security forces. Even the authorities of Ecuador, headed by Guillermo Lasso, an ally of the ex-president of Brazil, admitted that da Silva was elected legally.
Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov stressed: Moscow strongly condemns the actions of the instigators of the unrest and supports da Silva. Andrey Klishas, head of the Constitutional Committee of the Federation Council, pointed out that a coup d’état is not a way out of the political crisis. And he recalled the negative experience of Ukraine in 2014. His colleague, Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev, called the riots “a strange and senseless putsch to nowhere.”
Left versus right
Presidential elections were held in Brazil in October 2022. The winner was determined only in the second round – with a margin of 0.9 percent, the socialist da Silva, who already ruled the country from 2003 to 2011, won. Bolsonaro did not admit defeat for a long time, citing an allegedly rigged vote. In November, he tried to challenge the election results, but the Supreme Electoral Court rejected the application and fined the ex-president’s party $4.2 million for “bad intentions.” Bolsonaro took no public action to hold on to power and left for Florida. However, thousands of his supporters throughout Brazil set up camps near military bases. They claimed that the election results were rigged and called on the military to stage a coup.
In fact, during the election race, Bolsonaro himself stated this. “There is a new type of thieves who want to steal our freedom,” he told supporters in June. “If necessary, we will go to war.” Nothing else was expected from the far-right politician, who also relies on the military, in Brazil. The media often called him “tropical Trump”, and he himself did not hide his hostility towards the left from the very beginning of his political career. He even became president only due to the fact that da Silva was sent to jail on charges of corruption, which was then dropped, and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, was removed from power because of the scandal.
Last chance
According to experts, the riots in Brasilia are futile: most likely, this is just a gesture of desperation by Bolsonaro and his supporters. At the same time, Alexander Kharlamenko, a leading researcher at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, does not rule out that it was no coincidence that the ex-president flew to Florida two days before da Silva’s inauguration.
“Perhaps, Bolsonaro expected that he would be supported by the Republicans, who strengthened their positions in the US Congress in January. However, some congressmen from the Democratic Party (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joaquin Castro. — Ed.) Now demand to extradite the ex-head of Brazil to their homeland, where he can face trial. His supporter Ibanez Roshu has already been removed from the post of head of the capital district on suspicion of involvement in the riots, “Kharlamenko notes.
Professor of the Faculty of International Relations at St Petersburg University Viktor Kheyfets believes that it would be logical for da Silva’s opponents to start protests during the inauguration, and not after. However, according to him, the opposition could be frightened by the many police and military on the streets of the capital. However, Kheyfets points out that the protesters did not know what to do after the capture of several government buildings.
“If the army or elected deputies had taken their side, something else could have changed. However, instead, Amilton Mouran, who was vice president under Bolsonaro, made it clear that he was pleased with the results of the vote. Judge Sergio Mora, who sent da Silva at one time behind bars, and then became the Minister of Justice in the government of Bolsonaro, also spoke out against the protests, ”explains Heifetz.
Experts emphasize that there are no serious grounds to doubt the results of the October elections. Bolsonaro lost, right-wing deputies took the majority of seats in parliament. Another thing is that the ex-president may be dissatisfied with the way his former associates reacted to him after the vote. His radicalism scares them away – they hope to continue the struggle in a legitimate way. And da Silva is ready to provide them with such an opportunity on the basis of a compromise policy.