Brasilia mayhem resembles US Capitol riots - GulfToday

Brasilia mayhem resembles US Capitol riots

Hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters invade the Parliament building.

Hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters invade the Parliament building.

It is unfortunate that after a hard-fought Brazilian presidential election, the supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, the incumbent who lost to his rival Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, should have stormed the parliament, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace in the capital, Brasilia on Sunday. Bolsanaro had left the country for Florida and did not attend the inauguration of Da Silva. It seems to have sent out the wrong message to his followers though he did grudgingly admit that he had lost the election.

The January 8 rioting in Brasilia has an uncanny resemblance to the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol in Washington even as the loser of 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump, refused to accept his defeat. There was another parallel too between the two ugly episodes. Trump too did not attend the inaugural of Joe Biden, the Democrat who had won the election. It would also seem that for the first time the right-wingers in Brazil are imitating the right-wingers in the United States. It looks like Trump’s followers have set a bad example to other right-wingers in the western hemisphere, especially in Latin America.

The riot police have now been deployed near the camp of Bolsonaro supporters on Monday, and the soldiers in the nearby army headquarters withdrew.  Brazilian Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered the suspension of Brasilia governor Ibaneis Rocha, a supporter of Bolsonaro, for failing in security measures and which allowed the rioting to happen. And he had also ordered the blocking of the provocative messages of Bolsonaro supporters on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. Facebook’s parent company Meta has announced on Monday that it is removing the content of Bolsonaro supporters. President Lula said that those who were responsible for the Sunday rioting will be brought to justice.

The Brasilia rioting was condemned by world leaders. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “The violent attack on democratic institutions are an attack on democracy that cannot be tolerated.” Recently German intelligence detected a conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected government in the country and replace it with an avowedly fascist regime. The reaction of Scholz is an expression of fear of the right-wing conspiracies at home.

Surprisingly, even Russia had reacted to the situation in Brazil. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned those behind the violence. Though many in the West may not think of Russia as a democracy, elections are held regularly in the former communist-ruled Soviet Union. The eruption of violence against an elected government is something of concern to all the countries in the world which are considered democracies.

It is necessary to look into the reasons as to why right-wing anti-democratic forces are gaining ground in many countries, and why a large number of people are losing faith in democracy as we know it. While it is necessary to take stern action against the rioters and the rise of political violence needs to be contained, there is also the need to look into reasons as to why a large number of people in democratic countries are losing faith in democracy.

Trump polled 70 million votes in the 2020 American presidential election, and Lula won the election in Brazil by a very narrow margin in the election run-off in October. It would be a mistake to believe that only a small group of diabolical anti-democrats are behind the violence. Those indulging in the violence might be few, but there is a possibility that they enjoy the support of millions who are not happy with the manner democracy is being run by corrupt politicians across the ideological spectrum. This should be seen as a crisis of democracy and the issue should addressed with a sense of urgency.

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