Brazilian capital riots: A familiar sight for Americans

Riots in Brazil bring to mind the Jan. 6 insurrection in the US

Ryan Park, Staff Writer

What happened?

Oct. 2, 2022 was when the presidential elections in Brazil started. The two runners were Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro. Lula won the election by 2 million votes. Bolsonaro did not acknowledge the results of the election and his supporters took that as a sign to protest the election.

After the results were passed, supporters of Bolsonaro breached the Supreme Court and the Presidential Palace, protesting the results. Rioters vandalized the property and left a trail of destruction in their path. Eventually, the police removed rioters from the location and the search for the offenders commenced. The violence displayed was at an immense scale with over a thousand participants crowding into the area.


Brazil’s Chaotic Past

Brazil is relatively new to the concept of democracy and previously had a very strong military presence. A military coup in 1889 took control of the government from a monarchy. From then on, they had many key influences in Brazilian government and political identity. Eventually a military dictatorship was established in 1964 and lasted two decades. Even on their way out, they controlled the election process that fostered the transition to democracy.

“It controlled the selection of the republic’s first president. And, unlike Argentina or Chile, it was able to ensure that there was never a truth and reconciliation commission into its activities while in government,” said Dr. Christopher Sabatini, a senior researcher for Latin America.

Due to this large influence the military had on Brazil, many citizens still hold the coup in high regard. Bolsonaro is a very strong supporter of the military and has frequently appointed members of the military onto his cabinet. So when Lula, a controversial opponent of the military, won the election over Bolsonaro, a large demographic within Brazil was enraged.  

“A number of camps filled by supporters of the ex-president have also appeared outside Brazilian military bases, with some calling for a coup by the armed forces reminiscent of the two-decade military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964,” said Rob Picheta, CNN reporter


Parallels with the US Capital Riots on Jan. 6, 2021

The Jan. 6 siege on the capital shares many similarities with the Brazilian riot. It can even be said that the US riot was a key inspiration for the rioters in Brazil. When President Donald Trump called his followers or the “Proud Boys” to action against the election results, many people formed around the capital and breached the walls. Similarly, Bolsonaro’s followers took to the streets when he refused to accept the results of the election. 

Bolsonaro and Trump have both used their social media platforms to inspire violence and turmoil within their respective countries. These actions have only bred conflict and could potentially promote a standard where losing candidates of elections are expected to challenge the results. All in all, these barbaric actions of insurrection are the most foolish way to get a point across. Refusing the democratic process as someone who is supposed to be a beacon of freedom and liberty is immature and sets a poor example.