The assault of the Bolsonarists in Brazil: an air of deja vu in the United States

A charismatic right-wing leader who refuses to recognize his electoral defeat, boycotts the inauguration ceremony of his successor and refrains from intervening when his supporters attack the seat of government: Brazil followed the example of the UNITED STATES.

When he was in power, Jair Bolsonaro was directly inspired by Donald Trump, willingly adopting the nickname “Trump of the Tropics”.

Like the former US president, the Brazilian leader relied on the conservative religious right, defense of carrying guns, disdain for the LGBT+ community, rejection of mainstream political discourse and media, and love of the flag and crowds.

It is therefore not a surprise that after his defeat on October 30 against left-wing candidate Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, Mr. Bolsonaro has followed the path traced by Donald Trump after his own against Joe Biden in 2020.

After sowing doubts about the legitimacy of the electoral count for months, he never admitted having lost the election and watched without reacting as his supporters ransacked the seat of government before reluctantly publishing a call for calm.

The assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives – Samuel Corum)

Even the dates of the uprisings are almost identical: January 6 in Washington and January 8 in Brasilia, although in the Brazilian case Mr. Bolsonaro had already been replaced, while Donald Trump was still president.

The parallel goes as far as the institutions: like the United States, Brazil has a Supreme Court, a Senate, a House of Representatives, a presidency endowed with significant powers, a federal system with states headed by governors and a capital is not controlled by any federal state.

“We have gone from being the beacon of freedom and democracy, to inspiring America and exporting insurrections,” conservative American political commentator Charlie Sykes told MSNBC.

“It’s not a wishful thinking. The role that Trumpism has played in all of this is obvious,” he added.

– Florida in common –

The seat of the Brazilian government ransacked by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro on January 9, 2023 (AFP - CARL DE SOUZA)
The seat of the Brazilian government ransacked by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro on January 9, 2023 (AFP – CARL DE SOUZA)

The impression of déjà vu was striking on Sunday.

As in the assault on the U.S. Capitol two years ago, law enforcement was overwhelmed by insurgents who, with national flags slung, ransacked the offices of senior leaders and symbols of power, filming each other with relish.

And the similarities go even further.

When they were both in power, Jair Bolsonaro was received by Donald Trump at the White House, but especially at his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

It is also in this state in the south-east of the United States that the former Brazilian president went, two days before the end of his mandate, to settle in the property of a former martial arts champion, José Aldo, in Orlando.

According to several media, Mr. Bolsonaro, who has serious consequences from the stabbing attack which almost cost him his life in September 2018, was hospitalized there on Monday after feeling severe abdominal pain.

Like Donald Trump, who promotes his family to attract a younger electorate, Jair Bolsonaro highlights his son Eduardo, who has been invited to speak at ultra-conservative rallies in the United States and, according to the Washington Post, has even met Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago after his father’s defeat.

The ties between the two men continued after the departure of Donald Trump from the White House. Steve Bannon, the former éminence grise of the American billionaire, sentenced to four months in prison for refusing to cooperate with the parliamentary inquiry into the assault on the Capitol, has been closely associated with the disinformation campaigns of the Bolsonaro clan on the results of the Brazilian presidential election.

Brazil's defeated former president, Jair Bolsonaro, waited hours before urging calm during riots by his supporters in Brasilia (AFP/Archives - TÉRCIO TEIXEIRA)
Brazil’s defeated former president, Jair Bolsonaro, waited hours before urging calm during riots by his supporters in Brasilia (AFP/Archives – TÉRCIO TEIXEIRA)

Affirming that there is “no better person in this world” than Edouardo Bolsonaro or his father, Steve Bannon declared in November that the voting machines used in Brazil would be used to “steal the election”. On Sunday, he praised the insurgents on social media.

Another close associate of Trump, his adviser Jason Miller, was briefly arrested at Brasilia airport in 2021 after meeting Mr. Bolsonaro and participating in the Brazilian edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a forum first created in the United States.

“What is happening in Brazil is a global event,” Steve Bannon told the Washington Post after Mr. Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat. It is a movement that “goes beyond the Bolsonaros, that goes beyond Trump”.

Add a Comment