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Far-right online groups in Brazil calling for civil disobedience following Congress attack

After Sunday’s storming of Brazil’s democratic institutions, extremists from Brazil’s extreme-right have called for more civil disobedience.

Telegram channels are associated with Sunday’s riots and include messages promoting a silent revolution by refusing tax.

This is in light of mounting evidence that violent uprising plans were openly coordinated on public channels. They used thinly-veiled metaphors to describe plans for a “party”, inside Brazil’s Congress, on 8 January.

Sky News analysed these channels to see how they are reacting to Brazil’s “6 January” moment.


A Telegram message from Jair Bolsonaro’s hardline supporters in Brasilia has promoted a boycott of income taxes as one of the disruptive strategies.

The leaflets ask for “patriots to join a national campaign “to “starve” the “illegitimate” state.”

Many who were involved in Sunday’s riot believe that the fraudulent suggestion that October’s election saw Lula da Silva, a left-wing leader, win a narrow victory was an illusory claim. This is because of an unreliable electronic vote system. They claim that his government is illegitimate.

These allegations were made by Bolsonaro, who promoted them even after the uprising. On Wednesday, Bolsonaro shared a Facebook video in which he echoed voter fraud conspiracy theories. Since then, the clip has been removed from his Facebook page.

The flyer announcing a “National Shutdown” for next week was shared on some of Brazil’s most prominent far-right channels. It calls on truck drivers and workers in the agricultural sector to strike.

“Everyone at Home.”

“Empty streets. There is no violence. It reads.

Michele Prado is an independent analyst who studies Brazil’s far-right. She says that the objective is to create chaos, general shortages and hit infrastructure targets in order to provoke civil war and break up the democratic order.

Sky News also saw other messages encouraging people to join a nationwide strike in “silent protest.”

One asked people to stop using Brazilian banks and avoid Brazilian holidays.

The military will only intervene if there is chaos in the country. It says.

This comment captures one the key goals of extremists.

They have been calling for a military coup against Lula since the announcement of the election results at the end October. Brazil’s far-right views this as the only way for the country to prosper. They had set up a large protest camp near the headquarters of the military until it was destroyed by police following the riots.

They believe that by causing the maximum disruption in Brazil, military will not have any choice but to intervene.

“On 8 January they expected the Armed Forces to support them and promote a Military Intervention that would bring Bolsonaro to power, annul the election results, arrest President Lula, and close the Supreme Court,” stated Ms. Prado.

It’s evident that not all of these groups have maintained faith in the military after Sunday’s incident.

A widely shared video combines footage of Sunday’s rioters being arrested by the military with clips showing the conditions inside the gymnasium in which they are being held.

The audio track is accompanied by a man crying and shouting: “Army, help us!” You have betrayed our motherland!

The accompanying message states, “I warned everyone that this would happen if God wasn’t at the center of the [military],”

Others encouraged people to forget about the idea of a military coup and to trust God to stop Lula.

“It didn’t work 70 days ago when I asked for military intervention. Spend the same amount and ask for divine intervention. It will work! One leaflet says so.

Ms. Prado stated that “Christian nationalism” is very prevalent in Brazil’s far-right.

Sky News reported that she had also witnessed the spread of QAnon narratives that lead them to believe they are fighting a spiritual plot against a satanic plot, and that God will save them.

Experts have revealed how this radical coalition used these public online channels to organize Sunday’s violent uprising.

Extremists used codewords such as “Festa de Selma”, which means “Selma’s party”, to describe their plans for a violent uprising at the country’s Palace of the Three Powers.

Selma, another codeword for Selva which means “jungle in Portuguese”, is used by far-right as a rallying cry.

Telegram posted one image that showed a satellite image from the Esplanada Dos Ministerios, Brasilia. It included the caption “Location Selma’s party”.

It shows the Congressional Building circled with the caption “Cake Cut Here!”

Arcelino Neto, a professor at Sao Paulo University, found that the phrase “Festa da Selma”, first appeared on Twitter three days prior to Sunday’s attack. It had been shared more than 10,000 times by 10 January.

However, other messages did not attempt to hide the intent behind the 8th January demonstration.

“Attention. This is not a party. It is a war. One flyer suggests that you dress appropriately.

Another document, distributed just hours before the siege began was an image of a previous gathering at Congress to show what was being planned.

“This is our last chance!” The army is ready and waiting for our actions! Patriots, it must be today! It reads.

Experts closely monitor the movement of this group following the 8 January incident.

“Most people will continue to hold onto the ‘prophecy of military intervention,” said Professor Leticia Cesarino (Professor of Anthropology at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina) and expert on digital populism.

They will continue to push for Lula removal, even if it means using violence. Sky News told her that she believes they will continue to do so in an indirect way, like disrupting infrastructure.

“I would wait to see if they will have reflux before they start escalating again or if they’ll maintain the momentum.”

Sky News’ Data and Forensics unit is multi-skilled and dedicated to transparent journalism. To tell data-driven stories, we gather, analyse, and visualise data. Our traditional reporting skills are combined with advanced analysis of satellite imagery, social media, and other open-source information. Multimedia storytelling allows us to tell the story of our journalism and help people understand it.

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