EXPLAINER: Roots of the Brazilian capital’s chaotic uprising

Jan 9, 2023, 1:27 AM | Updated: 9:49 pm
Guarani Indigenous women protest calling for protection of the nation's democracy in Sao Paulo, Bra...

Guarani Indigenous women protest calling for protection of the nation's democracy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, a day after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in the capital. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

(AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Thousands of Brazilians who support former president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the Supreme Court, presidential palace and Congress on Jan. 8 in an episode that closely resembled the U.S. Capitol insurrection in 2021. The groups were able to break through police barricades along the capital Brasilia’s main boulevard and storm the buildings, damage furniture, smash windows and destroy artworks. As they unleashed chaos in the capital, Bolsonaro was holed up in Florida, home to his ally, former U.S. President Donald Trump. The incident sparked accusations that Bolsonaro’s actions stoked the flames of dissent and ultimately produced the uprising.

WHO ARE THESE PROTESTERS, AND WHAT DO THEY WANT?

The protesters are hardcore Bolsonaro supporters, some of whom have been camped outside a military headquarters in Brasilia since Bolsonaro lost the Oct. 30 presidential election and reject the race’s results. Others traveled to Brasilia for the weekend on buses. They have been demanding military intervention to oust newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, alleging he is a thief who will lead the country into communism, and restore Bolsonaro to power.

HOW DID BRAZIL GET TO THIS POINT?

Throughout his administration, Bolsonaro trained fire at Supreme Court justices for opening investigations targeting him and his allies. He repeatedly singled out Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who presided over the electoral authority during the election, and at one point pushed Brazil to the brink of an institutional crisis by threatening to disobey any of de Moraes’ future rulings.

Bolsonaro also sowed doubt about the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting machines, then declined to concede defeat. After his loss, he largely vanished from view, though he addressed his supporters once to tell them they had the power in their hands and that he controls the armed forces. His supporters maintained hope Bolsonaro or the armed forces would lead an intervention to overturn the results.

WHAT HAS BOLSONARO CLAIMED ABOUT THE VOTING SYSTEM AND ELECTIONS?

Bolsonaro insisted the electronic voting system should feature a printed receipt in order to enable audits, but Congress’ Lower House in 2021 voted down his proposal for that change and electoral authorities say the results can already be verified. Security experts consider electronic voting less secure than hand-marked paper ballots because they leave no auditable paper trail. Brazil’s system is, however, closely scrutinized and domestic authorities and international observers have never found evidence of it being exploited to commit fraud since its adoption in 1996.

After the 2022 elections, Bolsonaro and his party petitioned the electoral authority to nullify millions of votes cast on the majority of voting machines that featured a software bug — the machines lacked individual identification numbers in their internal logs. The request didn’t say how the bug might affect results, and independent experts said that it would not undermine reliability in any way. The electoral authority’s president swiftly dismissed the request and imposed a multi-million dollar fine on the party for what he called a bad-faith effort.

WHAT ARE BOLSONARO’S TIES TO TRUMP AND HIS ALLIES?

Former U.S. President Donald Trump was one of Bolsonaro’s few foreign allies and Bolsonaro often exalted his American counterpart’s leadership, even posting photos of himself watching Trump’s addresses.

Bolsonaro and his lawmaker son Eduardo visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and both attended dinners at the house of Steve Bannon. The longtime Trump ally amplified Bolsonaro’s claims about the electronic voting system before the October vote and, after the Jan. 8 uprising in Brasilia, called the protesters “Brazilian freedom fighters” in a video on social media.

Eduardo Bolsonaro has repeatedly attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in the U.S., positioning himself as the international face of the right-wing movement led by his father and making inroads with his American counterparts. Jason Miller, the former Trump campaign strategist, also met with Eduardo in Brazil. On the eve of the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, Eduardo was in Washington, and met with Ivanka Trump and My Pillow chief executive Mike Lindell.

After Trump lost his reelection bid, then-President Bolsonaro waited five weeks before recognizing Joe Biden’s victory and was one of the final world leaders to do so.

WHY IS BOLSONARO IN THE U.S.?

Bolsonaro flew to Florida two days before Lula’s Jan. 1 inauguration, when the outgoing president traditionally bestows the presidential sash to his successor. Instead, Bolsonaro took up temporary residence in the home of a Brazilian former mixed martial arts fighter outside Orlando. He hasn’t specified the reasons for his departure, and analysts have speculated it marks an attempt to avoid potential prosecution in connection with several ongoing investigations targeting him, blame from backers for not mobilizing the armed forces or responsibility for his supporters’ actions.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Police: Bus overturns in Slovenia, killing 3, injuring more

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — A bus overturned early Friday in northeastern Slovenia, killing three people and injuring several, police said. The accident happened around 5 a.m. near the town of Murska Sobota, police said in a statement. They said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash. Local media said the bus […]
1 day ago
FILE - A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. Turkey has slammed a group of W...
Associated Press

Turkey says West failed to share details of security threat

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey for a second day on Friday railed against a group of Western countries that temporarily shut their consulates in Istanbul, accusing them of failing to share information on the security threat that led to the closures and of aiming to cause harm to Turkey. This week, nine Western nations either […]
1 day ago
Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters put out a fire after Russian shelling hit a shopping...
Associated Press

EU officials hold Kyiv talks in show of support for Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Top European Union officials were due to meet Friday in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of support for the country as it battles to counter Russia’s invasion and strives to join the EU as well as NATO. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council […]
1 day ago
Tronco, or multiple foot stocks used to to constrain enslaved people, are seen at the Slavery exhib...
Associated Press

Dutch slavery exhibition to open at UN headquarters

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A landmark exhibition on slavery in the Dutch colonial era that was first staged at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is going on display at the United Nations in New York. The show, titled “Slavery. Ten True Stories of Dutch Colonial Slavery,” will open in the the U.N. headquarters’ visitors’ lobby from Feb. […]
1 day ago
A sister wears headwear showing a picture of The Last Supper, as she and a group of the Catholic fa...
Associated Press

Pope heads to South Sudan to urge peace as fighting kills 27

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Pope Francis opened the second and final leg of his African pilgrimage by heading to South Sudan on Friday, hoping to encourage the young country’s stalled peace process and draw international attention to continued fighting and a worsening humanitarian crisis. Francis had one final appointment Friday in Kinshasa with Congo’s bishops […]
1 day ago
This grab from video released by Adani Enterprises Ltd. on Thursday, Feb.2, 2023 shows Indian billi...
Associated Press

Indian tycoon Adani hit by more losses, calls for probe

NEW DELHI (AP) — Trading in shares in troubled Adani Enterprises gyrated Friday as the flagship company of India’s second-largest conglomerate tumbled 30% and then rebounded after more than a week of heavy losses that have cost it tens of billions of dollars in market value. The debacle, which led Adani to cancel a share […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
EXPLAINER: Roots of the Brazilian capital’s chaotic uprising