April 12, 2024

Thousands of people began gathering outside Brazilian government buildings in the days following Bolsonaro’s election loss. President Lula had called on local security forces to remove these protesters, but police opted to not use force.

The march – Protesters traveled on foot for 7km (4 miles) towards the government building complex, without being stopped by police. Officials have not said yet whether they had an official parade permit.

Breaching barricades – Video shows a single line of metal barriers outside Three Powers Square. One policeman is seen deploying pepper spray before the crowd quickly overwhelms the force.

Entering buildings – Police have been criticised for being too hands-off with the protesters as they streamed into buildings. Two videos we’ve verified show policemen taking pictures of the crowds as they walk up the ramps and into the Congress building.

Read more about what officials did to stop the riot here.

Graphic with timeline of how the buildings were attacked
What did the Bolsonaro protesters in Brazil want?

While Jair Bolsonaro may not have been the mastermind behind the invasion, he cannot be separated from it.

Throughout his term, he has repeatedly questioned the efficacy of Brazil’s institutions – accusing the Supreme Federal Court of being politically against him, and the voting system of being prone to fraud, despite no evidence to support those claims.

His supporters took on his narrative wholeheartedly.

Since he lost the elections in October he flew off to Florida to avoid having to hand over the presidential sash to Lula – and he’s allowed his most ardent supporters to remain angry over a democratic election that he legitimately lost.

Tension has definitely been building. Camps were set up across the country in front of army headquarters, with protesters loyal to Bolsonaro calling for military intervention. And then in December, supporters set fire to Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia. Another supporter was arrested for allegedly trying to set off a bomb before Lula’s inauguration on 1 January.

It’s no secret that many security forces are more on the side of Bolsonaro than Lula.

For Bolsonaro’s supporters, Lula – who was jailed in 2017 for corruption, and spent 18 months in prison before the convictions were annulled – is a corrupt politician who belongs in prison, not the presidential palace.

They falsely accuse him of being a communist, wanting to impose a regime like Venezuela or Cuba. They won’t be convinced by anything else – and they won’t give up their fight for “democracy” as they call it.

But there’s a massive flaw in their argument in wanting freedom and democracy.

They are calling for a very undemocratic military intervention to “save” Brazil – an intervention that despite their best efforts, doesn’t look forthcoming.

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