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Who are the protesters in Brazil – and why have they ransacked the country’s Capitol?

Rioters invaded and ransacked Brazil’s Congress, Presidential Palace and Supreme Court in a grim echoing the US Capitol riots of two years ago.

The country is still polarized by the three-hour-long uprising.

It happened just days after the inauguration leftist President LuizInacio Lula Da Silva, who beat Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election. This was one of the most closely contested presidential races with only 50.9% of votes.

It also made Bolsonaro the first Brazilian president to lose his bid for reelection.


Lula, the current Brazilian president, described Sunday’s vandals as “fanatical fascists”, who did “what has never been done in this country’s history”.

He said this during a press conference on an official visit to Sao Paulo state.

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Brazil’s president condemns rioting

Who are the protestors? Why are they protesting?

These protesters are far-right supporters Mr Bolsonaro’s, who challenged Lula’s election win on 30 October 2022.

Lula, who was president of Brazil between 2003 and 2011, narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in the run-off vote last year.

Soon after the election result was announced, Bolsonaro’s supporters started gathering outside of military bases in Brazil. They demanded a military intervention to stop Lula from returning home.

Image On 8 January, protesters stormed into the National Congress Building.

Truckers were among the supporters of Bolsonaro who blocked roads across the country in the days following his defeat.

Bolsonaro supporters organized rallies in November across the country asking for an intervention by the armed forces.

Image Truckers block Castello Branco highway in protest of Mr Bolsonaro losing the presidential run-off election

Brazilians protested outside a military base to condemn what they called a stolen or unfair election. They also defied a Supreme Court order to open roads and public spaces.

Many protestors hoped that the Ministry of Defence report, which Mr Bolsonaro sought to include in election oversight oversight, would support their claims.

Although the document was published in November, it suggested improvements to Brazil’s electoral system, but did not contain any evidence of fraud.

Domingues Carvalho (63), who protested for 15 straight days, said to the AP news agency, “I’m fighting my country, my daughter, and three grandchildren.”

He said that he often kneels in front of the military buildings to pray. “I will stay here as long and as I can. He said that although we are peaceful, communists will never take over our country.

Image Jair Bolsonaro

What is the driving force behind these rallies?

Bolsonaro challenged the results in Brazil’s election on 22 November and claimed that some votes should be invalidated. This complaint was later rejected by election authorities.

The Bolsonaro government has not opposed the transfer of power directly, but the far-right leader has yet conceded or congratulated his opponent.

His supporters took the cue and refused to accept the outcome.

Image Mr Bolsonaro supporters protest Lula da Silva winning on the streets in Sao Paulo, November

Anselmo do Nacimento, 51 years old, said that “this election was not fair.” “The Supreme Court should not be biased.”

The federal electoral court certified Lula’s victory in December.

Later that day, Bolsonaro’s followers attempted to invade Brasilia’s federal police headquarters. This was prompted after the arrest of an indigenous leader who had been accused of anti-democratic acts.

Protesters also condemned the closing down of pro-Bolsonaro groups and accounts on social media platforms, describing it as censorship.

Image Mr Bolsonaro supporters block highway BR-251 in protest at November
Image Protesters blockade highway BR060

Up to 8 January Riots

A man identified as George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, was arrested on Christmas Eve for trying to detonate a bomb in protest of Brazil’s election results. His police statement, which was a copy of the original, showed that he was motivated to create an arsenal by Bolsonaro’s tradition of supporting arming civilians.

On 29 December, Brazilian police detained at least four individuals in connection to an alleged plot to overthrow Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters.

Lula was elected president. He stated that democracy was the true winner, but he now leads a divided Brazil.

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Lula is sworn in as Brazil’s president

However, it wasn’t always that way. It was 83% approval ratings when he retired in 2011. His imprisonment on corruption charges was the result of a series of scandals. These charges were later dropped.

This was the last event before Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed the Brasilia Capitol 8 January.


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