Brazil is bracing for a right-wing insurrection far worse than the 2021 US Capitol attack

Post-2020 US elections, right-wing groups stormed the Capitol. As we approach the 2022 elections, Brazil is bracing for something worse.

July 08, 2022 by Brasil de Fato
Democrat US congress members have proposed an amendment to the Fiscal Authorization Act that pressures Brazil's armed forces not to interfere in this year's presidential elections - Fernando Frazão/ABr

The president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), Minister Edson Fachin, declared that during this year’s presidential election, Brazil may have a more serious attack than the January 6, 2021, invasion of the Capitol in the United States.

“We may have an even more aggressive episode than January 6 from here on Capitol Hill. We understand that there are six fundamental conditions to prevent this from happening in Brazil,” said Fachin, during a discussion at the Wilson Center in Washington DC on Wednesday, July 6.

“If there is a dissolution of one of the branches of government, the danger could go to the other side of the street,” he said. “Brazilian society, on October 2, will hold up a mirror to itself. Whether it longs for the war of everyone against everyone, or it longs for democracy and, from there, make its choices in a free and conscious way.”

For Fachin, those who attack the electoral process are undermining the Constitution and democracy / Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

To prevent anything worse from happening in Brazil, Fachin said that the Electoral Justice, civil society, the national congress, the Armed Forces, the press, and the international community must act to protect Brazilian democracy.

In his customary Thursday live broadcast on social media, President Jair Bolsonaro said he is “suspicious” of the work done by the TSE and that the people should prepare for the elections. “You know what’s at stake, you know how you should prepare – not for a new Capitol, nobody wants to invade anything, but for us to know what we have to do before the elections,” he said.

US Congress creates amendment against interference in Brazilian elections

Six Democrats from the US House of Representatives have proposed an amendment to the Tax Authorization Act that puts pressure on Brazil’s armed forces not to interfere in this year’s presidential elections.

Amendment 893, “Neutrality of the Brazilian Armed Forces During Presidential Elections,” was introduced on Tuesday, July 5 by Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and signed by colleagues Albio Sires (New Jersey), Joaquín Castro (Texas), Susan Wild (Pennsylvania), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), and Hank Johnson (Georgia).

The document stipulates that, after the elections in Brazil, the US Department of State has up to 30 days to produce a report to be sent to the US Congress, describing the performance of the Brazilian Armed Forces during the election process.

Should the report point to decisive interference or a coup d’état by the armed forces, the amendment provides for the US to discontinue financial assistance in Brazilian national security.

Jair Bolsonaro / Agência Brasil

For the report, congress members established five criteria. If the Brazilian Armed Forces:

1) Interfered with, impeded, or obstructed voting, counting operations, or election operations by independent election authorities.

2) Manipulated, sought to manipulate or canceled the results of the elections

3) Engaged in coordinated information or communication efforts to undermine popular faith and confidence in independent election authorities or questioned the validity of election results

4) Used social media or other mass communication systems, including mobile messaging applications, to attempt to influence widespread opinions about the validity of the election results or the desirability of any particular outcome

5) Encouraged, incited or facilitated activities or rebellions in relation to electoral processes, electoral counting or electoral results, before and after the presidential elections

Bombing Lula’s event

A homemade bomb exploded during an event organized by presidential pre-candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) and supporters, in Cinelândia, downtown Rio de Janeiro, on the night of July 7. The explosion occurred before Lula’s arrival, and no one was injured.

The bomb was dropped by an “event infiltrator”, according to Rio’s Military Police, in the area surrounded by the stage. The person responsible was charged with the crime and taken to the police station, where he confessed to launching the explosive.

As the press office of former President Lula reported, “two fireworks exploded, causing noise, thrown from outside into the area of the event,” but that “no one was injured and there was no rioting.”

Attack against judge who arrested Milton Ribeiro

On the same day, the judge who ordered the preventive imprisonment of former Education Minister Milton Ribeiro, Renato Borelli, was the target of an attack as he was leaving his home on his way to work in Brasília. His car was hit by animal feces, eggs and dirt. Although the material was thrown against his windshield, Borelli managed to drive to safety. The judge was not injured.

After he authorized the Federal Police’s “Operation Paid Access”, Borelli reported threats from groups of supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Judge Borelli’s windshield / Divulgação

The Federal Police is investigating former minister Milton Ribeiro for the alleged bribery scheme, through the intermediation between lobbyists and city halls, for the release of funds from the National Fund for Education Development (FNDE) at the Ministry of Education.

Liberal Party member accused of sexual abuse

José Renato Silva, former state vice-president of the Liberal Party (PL) in São Paulo, the same party as Bolsonaro, was accused of sexually abusing his daughter and two granddaughters. The Civil Police have been investigating the case since April of this year.

Cintia Renata Lira da Silva, José Renato’s daughter, made the case public with a publication on her Instagram account, on July 7. In the publication, Cintia says that she kept silent about the abuse until the day she found out that José Renato also abused her daughters. “The courage I never had as a daughter, I had as a mother,” she said.

“The feeling of lifting a weight off your back is very intense. Each day that we manage to face one more battle and overcome it, serves as more strength to continue and stay well. It is very important that this issue not be overshadowed,” Cintia wrote.

According to Cintia, José Renato has already been indicted and the case is being kept in judicial secrecy, as confirmed by the Secretary of Public Safety of the state of São Paulo. The case is investigated by the Suzano Police Department for the Defense of Women, through a police investigation.

José Renato’s lawyer, Denis Souza do Nascimento, told Folha that “the investigation is under judicial secrecy to preserve everyone’s privacy, therefore, at the moment, we cannot give more details about the contents of the investigation.”

Ciro Gomes and Bolsonaro to make their candidacies official in July

The former governor of Ceará, Ciro Gomes (PDT) will make his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic official on July 20, during the party’s national convention in Brasilia. The choice for the date, the first day of the deadline for conventions, according to the legislation, was made “to make the most of Ciro’s official candidacy.”

President Bolsonaro will also make his candidacy official on July 24, at the Maracanãzinho Gymnasium, in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the Genial/Quaest poll, released on July 6, Ciro Gomes has 6% support, behind Lula, who continues to lead the presidential race, with 45%, and Bolsonaro, who has 31%.

The parties have until August 5 to confirm the names of their slates in party conventions.

This article was written by Caroline Oliveira and originally published in Brasil de Fato.