Storming of Congress in Brazil: botched coup

After the storming of the congress in Brazil, the participants belong in court. This isn’t about revenge, it’s about democracy.

people in a destroyed space

Attack on democracy: the Congress building in Brasilia on January 9, 2023 Photo: Adriano Machado/rtr

In a political environment already mined for Brazilian democracy, the questions at the moment are multiple, but one of them stands out clearly: will all these people who have been involved in the violent unrest in Brasília, and those who sponsored them have held responsible? Will there be a legal prosecution? The future of Brazil depends on the answer.

Millions of Brazilians obviously have the difficult one time of the military dictatorship forgotten and yearn for a return of the military to power. This impression arises from the demonstrations and the nationwide camps in front of military bases. Last but not least, President Jair Bolsonaro had given a significant proportion of cabinet seats to officers, for whom he felt undisguised respect.

In an unprecedented initiative, a group naming itself “Against the Putsch” garnered over a million hits on social media in one day. Followers identified numerous perpetrators who were involved in the storming of the congress on the basis of photographs. Brazilian newspapers also tried to find the violent troublemakers in the government district together.

The ringleaders apparently come from a right-wing extremist milieu, are white people who belong to the middle class. In Brazil, more than half of the population are black people. When talking about poverty, it is almost exclusively about PoC. However, they make up only a small part of the suspects that the police have been able to identify in the meantime.

Political Football Shirt

Many wore Brazilian soccer team t-shirts, clothes in the colors of the Brazilian flag or they wrapped themselves in the flag. Calling themselves patriots, they openly advocate a military coup to overthrow the government of newly sworn President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Labor Party (PT). Numerous military officers, including those in higher ranks, have already publicly expressed their solidarity with the protest against Lula.

The political scientist Rafael Cortez from the consulting firm Tendencias in São Paulo expects massive public pressure to prosecute the troublemakers. The evacuation of the camps that have stood in front of the military bases for the past three months is a major step in the right direction, even as violent demonstrations are still taking place in various parts of the country.

However, Cortez recognizes a decentralization of the protests and a general reduction in organized action. With the already deep social inequality, Brazil is confronted with another ideological-political problem. The discussion extends through institutions to the streets. It decisively determines everyday discourse, with the large number of weapons in the hands of civilians being particularly problematic.

The number of Acts of violence was during the election campaign increased again last year. Despite the large number of people arrested and the great pressure from large sections of the population to bring the perpetrators to justice, Bolsonaro supporters have repeatedly staged protests across the country. Parallels to the storming of the Capitol in Washington two years ago are obvious.

Mostly property damage

But the obvious déjà vue should not cloud the view that there are also clear differences. Thus, the storming of the Capitol took place before Joe Biden was sworn in as US President, whereas the Handover of office on New Year’s Day to Lula da Silva was peaceful and he was already President of Brazil before the action began. Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro condemned the violence, although like Trump he did not want to recognize the election of his successor.

The riots in the Brazilian government district took place on a Sunday when the offices were empty. Apart from a few journalists suffering minor injuries, no one was harmed. In contrast, five people died in Washington and hundreds were injured. In unison, numerous states condemned the attack by Bolsonaro supporters on the congress building, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court.

The express international solidarity with the democratically elected government of Lula da Silva is an important signal to the anti-democrats in Brazil. The call from US congressmen for solidarity with the voters of Lula da Silva is getting louder and louder. Specifically, it is about the extradition of Jair Bolsonaro, who has been in Florida since December 31.

The Supreme Court is investigating the former president for the targeted dissemination of false information and serious misconduct during the corona pandemic. Bolsonaro should not face easy times. Likewise warped Anderson Gustavo Torres to Florida after the government issued an arrest warrant for him.

Bolsonaro’s ex-justice minister was dismissed from his position as head of security for the federal district of Brasília immediately after the riots. He too should be extradited and brought to justice in a timely manner. Lula da Silva, meanwhile, is increasingly showing the human side and being spiritually accessible, which appeals to a large part of the very religious Brazilian population.

With its numerous new ministries, it also aims to strengthen the pluralistic Brazilian society. The Ministry for Indigenous Peoples was long overdue. Brazil is a country of differences, where mutual understanding should be central. The prosecution of offenders should not be defined as retaliation, but as a necessary measure to uphold democracy and the rule of law.

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