History repeated


Brazil began its new year with a disorderly expression of political anger when ex-president Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed the congressional building in the capital, Brasilia. On Jan. 9, more than 1,500 right-wing Brazilian citizens marched to Brasilia, entered the Supreme Court and Presidential Palace, defiled offices, and destroyed the interior.  

“Onlookers said they [Brazilian rioters] seemed beside themselves with hate, like a horde of zombies. They were running down hallways, smashing things, urinating, defecating in the corridors and in the rooms on one destruction spree,” CNN said. 

The protest follows leader Jair Bolsonaro’s loss to Lula da Silva in the October run-off election, which restored Silva to power after 12 years out of office. The riot began when Bolsonarismo’s (the term for Bolsonaro’s firm right-winged political policies) avid supporters displayed the Brazilian flag and stormed the congressional building. Around this time, the local police and Brazil’s armed forces arrived to quell the uprising. Still, protestors continued to forcefully enter capital buildings. They vandalized artwork and set fire to the carpet in order to express their discontent. It was not until hours later that the protestors were detained and arrested. Currently, Brazilian forces have arrested 400 protestors and are still searching for more.  

“I believe that the fair election process of democracy should not be met with violence. I think that the fear of many that ‘protests’ like these will become a trend are valid and that we should work to [not] normalize this violence,” Priscilla Dice, senior, said.  

The outrage had been brewing for months prior, immediately following Bolsonaro’s defeat. Since October, several hundreds of citizens have established camp outside governmental buildings and carried out less severe riots. A general distaste for Silva’s left-wing Workers’ Party has fueled the protestors, and many believe that the election was rigged or “stolen” from Bolsonaro. The event bears eerie similarities to the insurrection that took place in the United States’s capital on Jan. 6, 2020. Along with the similarity in time and location, the United States protest also occurred due to right-wing Trump supporters claiming the 2020 presidential election had been “stolen” after he lost to democrat Joe Biden, charging the capital building in retaliation. Many feel as though Trump incited the attack and encouraged his supporters through social media, whereas Bolsonaro has been maintaining silence regarding the matter— which many claim to be his own way of applauding the insurrection.  

“People like Bolsonaro and Trump can lead even by not talking, or by writing very little, or by only expressing themselves in the vaguest of terms because they know that their followers are going to read all sorts of different meanings into whatever it is that they are saying,” Vox said. 

The recent debacle has sparked fear amid multiple countries that a right-wing succession is bound to occur, and politicians fear the capital uprisings may become a pattern. All eyes are on Brazil as the country continues to experience turmoil.