The Brazilian Riot Was Not Inspired by January 6
On Sunday, over 1,000 supporters of Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed the seat of the country’s government in the capital city of Brasilia. Claiming that last year’s election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was illegitimate, the rioters demanded a military intervention to reinstate Bolsonaro, who has yet to recognize his electoral defeat to da Silva, the leader of Brazil’s Workers’ Party. Bolsonaro has been in Florida since before the current president’s inauguration on January 1.
Twitter soon became flooded with images of shattered windows and flag-waving ruffians who, clad in the yellow jerseys of the national soccer team, plundered the insides of Brazil’s Congress, the Planalto presidential palace, and several ministries. Without delay, the global media began to feel reverberations of the Trumpist insurrection of January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
“Brazil capital riot echoes Jan. 6,” quipped MSNBC. “Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazil’s Congress, echo Jan. 6 invasion,” Newsweek reflected. “In echo of Jan. 6 attack in U.S., Brazilian protesters storm their Congress, high court and palace,” added USA Today. The BBC’s Mike Wendling, a “US disinformation reporter,” went further and expounded on “how Trump’s allies stoked Brazil Congress attack,” noting, for instance, that Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon had questioned the validity of Brazil’s 2022 election in his podcast.
For all the global echoes of January 6— and the many instances of foreign correspondents echoing each other— Brazil’s riot on January 8 was very much part of the local tradition of political mob violence, a tactic that the Brazilian left has fully mastered. For certain locals, in fact, yesterday’s act of Bolsonarista thuggery was rather more reminiscent of the country’s general strike in May 2017 than of the assault on the U.S. Capitol two years ago.
At the time, Brazil was in the midst of a fiscal crisis as the economy struggled to recover from a profound two-year-long recession. Then-President Michel Temer, a left-winger who had replaced the impeached Dilma Rousseff in 2016 (Temer had been Rousseff’s vice president), sought to implement mild reforms to the country’s notoriously rigid labor laws and set the minimum age of retirement at 65. As Reuters explained then, it was common for Brazilian workers to “retire with full benefits in their 50s.” Brazil’s leading labor unions, however, had other plans.
Together with the Workers’ Party and the Communist Party, among others, union leaders claimed that Temer, whom the Supreme Court was investigating for corruption under the wide-reaching Odebrecht scandal, was an illegitimate president. They demanded his resignation and an ensuing election even though, had Temer resigned, an interim president would have been installed by law until the end of the established term. Taking the law into their own hands, however, the unions called a general strike that sought to bring down the government.
On the evening of May 24, 2017, Bloomberg reported the following:
“Amid frequent clashes with police, demonstrators mobilized by Brazil’s main labor unions bro
Article from Reason.com