Lessons to take from Brazilian capitol riot


Ravi Kotecha

This is an example of a Pro-Bolsonaro protest in Brazil

Al Curle, Opinions Writer

Brazil’s capital was stormed on Jan. 8, 2023, an event that shocked onlookers with its similarity to the events of Jan. 6 two years prior, in which Trump supporters stormed the Capital Building in order to overturn the election. Participants in the storm climbed walls, broke windows, and trashed the inside of the building. 

The difference comes in how the event was responded to. Where the American response has been slow and drawn out, the Brazilian response has been swift and stark.

Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has openly condemned the perpetrators as “neo-fascists” and vowed to prosecute all those who engaged and helped in the violence. Lula has also utilized emergency state powers to this end.

There are few things as poisonous to a healthy democracy as an authoritarian push for power. People who seek to subvert democratic institutions by trying to keep a candidate in power after they lose can easily put nails in the coffin of these institutions.

This is why the Brazilian response should serve as an example as to what needs to be done in the case of anti-democratic violence. Namely, as Lula has, immediately arrest those who stormed the capital and quickly go after their collaborators. 

These groups have to be dealt with completely because any small faction will seek to grasp more and more power at the cost of the rest of us exercising our electoral will. Just as when taking antibiotics, you must take all of the doses in order to completely eradicate the infection, the same is true with anti-democratic movements. They both will try again, having grown from the weaknesses of last time.

This has historically been true with their predecessors, who in 1930s Europe, were dealt with a soft hand. They were allowed to write propaganda in prison, their movements were not outlawed, and they were able to gain enough power to put an end to their prospective democracies.

What Lula seems to be attempting to do is learn from those mistakes of the past. He appears to be trying to prevent the movement from making another attempt at power. 

The Biden administration has voiced their support, which aside from the legitimizing of Lula’s actions, may signal broader material support. Even if material support doesn’t come to fruition, the public support of Lula’s administration further discredits the former president, Jair Bolsanaro’s, attempt at power.

While Biden’s support of Lula is a victory for democracy worldwide, it is also a reminder that the events of Jan. 6 2021, are neither unique to the United States nor can we as a country get complacent and let the perpetrators and their collaborators get off easy. Just as it is a concern abroad that authoritarians will try for power again if they are dealt with lightly, it is also a concern domestically. 

We here in the United States should pay attention to the events in Brazil and keep it as a reminder that while we support another country’s democratic government, we also have plenty of work to do to safeguard our own.