Anti-government protests rock the capital of Brazil as demonstrators storm government buildings

Just yesterday, the BBC reported that thousands of protesters who allegedly support Brazil's former president, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed Congress in Brasilia by overwhelming police guarding the area.

Other protesters breached the deserted Senate chamber, the presidential palace, the Supreme Court, and other government buildings.

The Brazilian media reported that it began as a peaceful protest against Brazil's socialist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who protesters allege won his election by fraud.

However, when "nearly 100" buses full of protesters arrived at the capital, law enforcement was overwhelmed.

The Associated Press reported that the protesters broke windows, toppled furniture, and hurled computers and printers to the ground.  They punctured paintings and overturned the tables at which Supreme Court justices convene.  They ripped a door off one justice's office and vandalized an iconic statue outside the court. 

The protesters reportedly chanted slogans such as "Brazil is ours!"

...and "Free our country from communism!"

In time, security forces managed to restore control of the buildings.

The occurrences yesterday are being called a culmination of months of protests following the October presidential election, where convicted felon and socialist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated the then-incumbent Bolsonaro following two rounds of voting.  Lula won the run-off by a wafer-thin margin of 50.84%.

The protesters called Lula's victory illegitimate for the following reasons:

An audit by the Armed Forces of Brazil of the 2022 runoff presidential election concluded that there was a probability of fraud or irregularities due to Brazil's electronic voting system.

In 2017, Lula was convicted on charges of corrupt acts occurring during his first two terms as president.  Brazil's federal electoral court has ruled that Lula could not run for president because of his corruption conviction.  However, a Supreme Court judge in Brazil annulled Lula's corruption convictions, clearing his path to run for the presidency in 2022.

During the election cycle, many pro-Bolsonaro accounts and groups on social media platforms were shut down and prevented from mentioning Lula's corruption convictions.  Many Bolsonaro-supporters were fined and subjected to police raids.

The global liberal ecosystem that includes the news media covered the elections as if Brazil hung on the precipice of destruction unless Lula won re-election.  Once again, this amounts to interference in a national election.

When Lula was sworn in as president on January 1, he pledged to undo the legacy of his populist predecessor's government, which he claimed involved depleting funding for education, health, and the conservation of the Amazon rainforest.

Days before Lula's inauguration, Justice Alexandre De Moraes of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), which administers elections, temporarily suspended licenses that permit hunters, marksmen, and collectors to carry guns, firearms, and ammunition in the region where the capital city of Brasilia is located.

In 2020, De Moraes had presided over a "fake news" probe that resulted in police raids against comedians, YouTube commentators, and journalists for having publicly supported Bolsonaro.

In 2021, De Moraes also presided over the arrest and sentencing of former congressman Daniel Silveira to eight years in prison for "insulting" TSE ministers in a YouTube video.  Bolsonaro pardoned Silveira last year.

De Moraes was also involved in the annulment of corruption charges against Lula that allowed him to run for elections.

Bolsonaro, who has often been compared to President Trump in outlook and agenda, left the country for Florida late last month.

Tweeting on Sunday evening, Bolsonaro criticized the riots, writing that peaceful demonstrations are part of democracy but that "depredations and invasions of public buildings" are not.  Bolsonaro rejected what he called Lula's and his allies' "baseless" allegations that he incited the protests in Brasilia.

There are a few open questions regarding these riots.

The election results were out last November, and Lula was sworn in on the first of January.

Why did the protesters take so long to react? 

Even if we assume that the protesters took around two months to plan their breach, we must question the lack of security despite a warning about the possibility of disruption after a controversial and tightly contested election.

Experts are asking why such a long march got through security to the square, only to then enter government buildings.  Footage from local TV stations and social media showed little to no resistance from security forces as the protesters went by.

Observers noted that an army brigade is permanently stationed in the presidential palace.  Hence, the question remains: how did the rioters manage to invade and vandalize the palace?

It also seems odd that the protest began peacefully but turned violent only when buses of protesters arrived.

This leads to questions about the bussed protesters.  Who paid for the bussing?  How could the media and the government be certain that all of these bussed protesters were supporters of Bolsonaro?

But these questions aren't being asked.

Instead, the news media in the U.S. and beyond are covering this as a riot that is a sequel to the Capitol Hill "insurrection" on Jan. 6, 2021.  The rioters are being characterized as "far-right." 

There has been condemnation from global leaders that were similar to the ones following the occurrences on Capitol Hill.

The BBC is already blaming "Trump's election-denying allies" for stoking the riots.  Steve Bannon was blamed for asking questions about election irregularities in Brazil and promoting the hashtag #BrazilianSpring.  Democrat politicians also blamed President Trump.

Following the breaches of government buildings, President Lula vowed to punish supporters of Bolsonaro. 

Justice Minister Flavio Dino told local media that some 200 people had already been arrested.  Dino had already referred to anti-Lula protest groups as "incubators of terrorism" last month.

In the coming weeks, expect Lula and his allies to use the might of the government to crack down on political opponents.  This creates a climate of fear that is the equivalent of criminalizing political opposition.

It almost seems as if a template was followed:

  • Elevate the liberal candidate as the sole virtuous savior of the nation in doom, while his opponent is relentlessly denigrated and dehumanized as an insensitive, heartless, bigoted, anachronistic, despotic monster.
  • Manipulate the discourse leading to the elections using the might of the judiciary and the government, and by co-opting the news media and Big Tech.
  • Suppress and censor all wrongdoing of the liberal candidate, and allow the vilest of rumors regarding his opponent to be amplified.
  • Exploit all the vulnerabilities of the voting system to help the liberal candidate, which obviously causes ardent supporters of the "losing" candidate to be upset.
  • Perhaps use proxies to convince supporters of the "losing" candidate to hold a protest in the capital.
  • Reduce security in key areas around the capital, and allow supporters of the "losing" candidate to protest.
  • Infiltrate the protests with violent elements who engage in vandalism and chant slogans that seem like supporters of the "bitter" "losing" candidate.
  • Blame the "losing" candidate and his supporters for the violence.
  • Ensure that videos and images of these occurrences spread across the world via the media.
  • Compel the media to amplify the occurrences, using ominous-sounding terms such as "insurrection" and "coup."
  • The "insurrection" receives global condemnation of the "losing" candidate and his supporters.
  • Use the "riots" or "insurrection" to criminalize political opposition and eventually implement a one-party state.


Image: Screen shot from The Independent video via YouTube.

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