Brazil And Jan. 6 In U.S. Are Parallel Attacks, But Not Identical

Enraged protesters broke into authorities buildings which might be the very image of their nation’s democracy. Pushed by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss within the final election, they smashed home windows, sifted by the desks of lawmakers and trashed the best workplaces within the land in a rampage that lasted hours earlier than order may very well be restored.

Sunday’s assault by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s capital drew speedy parallels with the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s backers two years and two days earlier.

The 2 populist former presidents shared an in depth political alliance with an overlapping solid of supporters — a few of whom helped unfold Trump’s lies about shedding his re-election as a consequence of voter fraud and later parroted Bolsonaro’s comparable claims after his personal re-election loss final fall. Bolsonaro was among the many final world leaders to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.

“The U.S. example of election denying and creating alternative facts, and radicalizing law enforcement, and of openly disparaging democratic institutions was a template that I don’t think Bolsonaro et al would have come up with on their own,” mentioned Scott Hamilton, a former U.S. diplomat in Brazil.

Nonetheless, specialists warn in opposition to conflating the 2 assaults.

There have been “undeniable similarities” to Jan. 6, mentioned Graham Brookie, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Analysis Lab, which tracks disinformation across the globe.

“The imagery. A lot of the calls for action on social media are very, very similar,” he mentioned. “But there’s a huge caveat. Democracy in Brazil is a lot different than democracy here in the United States. The culture, the context, even the institutions are really different, and that really matters.”

Protesters, supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. Planalto is the official office of the president of Brazil. (AP Picture/Eraldo Peres)

Most of the connections are out within the open. Bolsonaro’s lawmaker son, Eduardo, in 2019 signed on to work with Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s worldwide populist motion. Bannon turned one of many loudest proponents of Trump’s election lies in 2020 and has amplified Bolsonaro’s claims about rigged voting machines.

Trump was one in all Bolsonaro’s few international allies, and Bolsonaro usually exalted his American counterpart’s management, even posting pictures of himself watching Trump’s addresses. He and his son visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago, and each attended dinners at Bannon’s home.

After Sunday’s rioting in Brasilia, Bannon referred to as the protesters “Brazilian freedom fighters” in a video on social media.

The Conservative Political Motion Convention, a key gathering of right-wing activists that has been a hotbed of pro-Trump enthusiasm, met in Sao Paulo in September. One of many attendees, former Trump spokesman Jason Miller, was later detained by Brazilian authorities earlier than leaving the nation.

“We do not advocate violence but believe peaceful protests are proper and that the situation in Brazil should be fully investigated,” Matt Schlapp, CPAC’s lead organizer, mentioned in an announcement to The Related Press in response to the weekend rioting.

Protesters stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Courtroom and presidential palace, with some calling for the army to oust President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Others waved banners suggesting they believed claims that voting machines have been programmed to steal the election from Bolsonaro, harking back to indicators brandished on Jan. 6 selling comparable conspiracy theories within the U.S.

The pictures of Brazilian protesters preventing with police guarding the complicated, breaking into authorities workplaces and looking out the desks of opposition lawmakers added to the flashbacks concerning the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The assaults adopted months of Bolsonaro exploiting fears about election integrity with out providing proof, just like Trump in 2020.

In November, Bolsonaro blamed his loss on a software program bug and referred to as for many digital votes to be annulled. Independent specialists rejected his declare, and Bolsonaro’s bid to annul the votes failed.

Social media nonetheless throbbed with misinformation concerning the election after it ended, and posts urging Brazilians to converge on their capital metropolis on Sunday to problem the election outcomes went viral on TikTok, Fb, Telegram and different platforms. One put up racked up greater than 800,000 views simply since Friday, in keeping with an evaluation by Aos Fatos, a Brazilian fact-checking group.

Wendy Through, president of the International Venture In opposition to Hate and Extremism, mentioned Sunday’s riots are one more instance of how on-line misinformation and rhetoric can spur violence in the event that they’re deployed by a pacesetter with a big sufficient viewers.

“We did see this coming,” Through mentioned. “This doesn’t just happen in Brazil, or the United States. This is a global problem. Should we compare what happened in Brazil to Jan. 6? I say 100%, because it’s the same playbook.”

But there are vital variations between the 2 assaults and the forces within the two nations that propelled them.

“This was not part of an orchestrated movement to overturn the election results,” mentioned Christopher Garman, managing director of the Americas for the Eurasia Group, a political threat consulting group. “It’s a little bit of a different animal” than Jan. 6, he mentioned.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump was nonetheless president, and he urged his supporters at his rally on the ellipse to march to the Capitol and cease Congress’ ratification of Joe Biden’s victory. In Brasilia, the protest occurred on a Sunday, when few have been in authorities workplaces and Bolsonaro had already relinquished energy.

FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
FILE – Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Picture/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Bolsonaro had even left the nation — to Trump’s adopted house state of Florida, the place he seems to have been staying within the Orlando space. On Monday, he checked right into a hospital there, complaining of belly pains.

Garman mentioned Bolsonaro’s hand might have been checked by Brazil’s supreme court docket, which has been aggressively penalizing misinformation concerning the election to the purpose of censoring social media accounts and information studies that it discovered deceptive. Bolsonaro knew that if he pushed too laborious, the court docket might rule he couldn’t run for public workplace once more.

“If he had followed the Trump path, his political rights would have already been suspended,” Garman mentioned.

The state of affairs in Brazil can be extra fraught than within the U.S. Systemic corruption is a larger concern in that nation, as is the steadiness of what’s nonetheless a reasonably younger democracy after a long time of authoritarian rule that lasted by the Eighties. The person who beat Bolsonaro, Lula, is a former president who was imprisoned on corruption expenses throughout Bolsonaro’s preliminary 2018 election, solely to have his conviction annulled by Brazil’s supreme court docket.

The anti-establishment anger might sound acquainted to those that observe U.S. politics — a hyper-polarized political atmosphere and a weakened heart, together with mounting mistrust in each establishments and people on the opposite facet.

“It’s not healthy for any democracy to have these levels of distrust,” Garman mentioned.

Related Press writers David Biller in Rio de Janeiro and Joshua Goodman in Miami contributed to this report.