Open thread on Brazil

by John Q on January 9, 2023

An open thread on the insurrection in Brazil. I’d particularly be interested in comments from a Latin American perspective.



Pseudonym 01.09.23 at 11:35 pm

I’m wondering whether Greenwald is still shouting about how Bolsonaro is nothing like Trump (Who He Does Not Support™), but I’m not enough of a masochist to actually check.


ambercat 01.10.23 at 6:55 am

Doesn’t really seem like a coup attempt to me. See Luttwak. Bunch of idiots for sure. Glad to see Brazil’s political system survived it easily!


stostosto 01.10.23 at 8:52 am

Did this attack, horrible as it was, constitute any real threat to Brazil’s government? The J6 attack was clearly part of a plan to disrupt the normal transition of power and reinstall Trump. The Brasilia riots look more like blind violence in the sense that Lula is in place by the normal institutional procedures, and seemingly securely established. I note there is apparently a governor in Brasilia who is bolsonarista, but how deep does this really run? Was there any parts of police and army that were prepared to stage an actual coup?


John Q 01.10.23 at 9:40 am

@2 and @3 . The Brasilia attacks, at multiple sites, were organised in advance with large numbers of people bused in. There was a clear expectation (not totally unjustified) that the police and military would join the insurrection. J6 was an amateur effort by comparison, and still came close. So, the coup organisers had good reason to hope for success.


Chris Bertram 01.10.23 at 2:20 pm

Perhaps less an attempt to seize power than an early move in a process designed to make the country appear chaotic and ungovernable, thus giving generals an excuse (represented as an obligation) to restore “order”.


steven t johnson 01.10.23 at 2:47 pm

Merely guessing at a Latin American perspective? A prime consideration would be the US role in the proceedings. Bolsonaro very much has tremendous support in the US, just like his mentor Trump. But at this point, Biden is president and supporting Bolsonaro would be supporting one of his political enemies and indirectly strengthening his opponent. The non-appearance of the red tsunami last November was a major blow to Bolsonaro’s plans, even though the right did sweep the Brazilian legislature in a way the Republicans hoped they would. Bolsonaro’s supporters in the US may have told him to stand clear with a useful illness in a Florida hospital till the political climate in the US is a little better, maybe after Biden has been impeached.


TM 01.10.23 at 4:49 pm

I would also be interested in informed takes on what is happening in Peru. I don’t understand much of what is going there but there was a peaceful transition of power to a very leftwing president who had narrowly won election, despite the losing right-wing candidate refusing to concede and claiming fraud. Recently the elected president has turned against the right wing dominated parliament (why on earth do voters elect a right wing parliament if what they want left wing politics?) and was ousted and succeeded by his own vice president. Violence ensued with both sides accusing the other of instigating a coup. What is really going on?


Thomas P 01.10.23 at 5:04 pm

I just saw a claim that the real purpose may have been to steal or destroy incriminating documents from Bolsonaro’s time.


Alex SL 01.10.23 at 9:04 pm

Not a Latin American, so what I write should be taken with a bucket of salt, but I think Chris Bertram has it: even just from checking a bit of news it is clear that a significant number of conservative Brazilians wish for a return of military rule.

Don’t have any interesting perspectives to share, but let me just say that reading Musk’s “I hope that the people of Brazil are able to resolve matters peacefully” made me really, really angry. Not only because of him per se, but because people do the same for every situation with a clear aggressor and a clear victim, see also Ukraine.

They have a peaceful way of resolving it, the election that recently took place, and the peaceful resolution was Lula winning, just like it was Bolsonaro winning last time. What must be going on in the mind of somebody who both-sides this kind of situation?


nastywoman 01.10.23 at 10:34 pm

‘What must be going on in the mind of somebody who both-sides this kind of situation?’

I know –
I know!!
(and can I please answer it with the answer getting posted?)

Somebody who both-sides such a kind of situation very obviously sides with Right Wing Insurrectionists.


J-D 01.10.23 at 11:46 pm

why on earth do voters elect a right wing parliament if what they want left wing politics?

That’s a subset of the larger question ‘How do people decide who they’re going to vote for?’, which is a great mystery. One thing that’s clear, though, is that there are lots of people who do not decide by thinking ‘I’m going to vote for right-wing candidates’ or ‘I’m going to vote for left-wing candidates’. You might think they should; I might think they should; but they don’t.

They have a peaceful way of resolving it, the election that recently took place, and the peaceful resolution was Lula winning, just like it was Bolsonaro winning last time.

At this stage of events, the peaceful resolution is for the insurrectionists to surrender themselves to the police, confess, denounce the organisers, and (later on) plead guilty.


John Q 01.11.23 at 9:13 am

So far at least, Brazil seems to be handling this a lot better than the US did. The insurrection was shut down quickly, 1000+ arrested and the police who facilitated it have been sacked.


marcel proust 01.11.23 at 5:08 pm

So I came across an assertion (link below) that the CIA was behind what happened in Brazil. Other than the CIA’s long history, is there any reason to believe this or think there may be something to it?


stostosto 01.11.23 at 9:19 pm

Definitely much better handled by Brazil so far


nastywoman 01.11.23 at 10:12 pm

‘So I came across an assertion (link below) that the CIA was behind what happened in Brazil’.

Me too –
and as one of the commenters of the article you linked to wrote:
bolsonaro is such a genius he goes to mar-a-lago to get the blueprint for the jan 6 “insurrection” complete with instructions on how to make the all important horned shaman headdress. if the cia is behind it, they’re not even trying anymore.
isn’t/wasn’t that one of the funniest assertions about what happened in Brazil?
(besides the theory of Glenn Greenwald that the ‘Brazilian’- he didn’t call an ‘Insurrection’ was something completely different than the ‘US Jan 6 Insurrection’ -(he never called like that either) – which should US make believe that Tourists who visit the Brazilian Parliament are completely different from Tourist who visit the US Capitol –
or what?


Ray Vinmad 01.12.23 at 3:44 am

I have no expertise but I have been following Lula for a long time.

It’s often very difficult to really understand what’s going on in Brazil. I try to muddle through Portuguese papers but it doesn’t necessarily help…E.g., when Lula was up on corruption charges they seemed extremely flimsy and possibly not true but you did not see this in US papers.

Lula seems to evoke a lot of pearl clutching while Bolsonaro evoked praise in US and UK media even though Bolsonaro seemed pretty clearly corrupt and Lula did everything by the neoliberal book, paid ball with the IMF, kept Brazil from tanking in the 2008 financial crisis, and generally managed the economy well. Some estimates have the reduction of poverty under first era to be around 20%, which is the first time poverty has decreased in Brazil. He still focused on economic growth though.

He was criticized by the left frequently for all of that. It seems reminiscent of US politics, honestly even if ideologically Lula is further to the left than any Democrat. You can’t win, even if you make plenty of money for the rich.

A lot of the pushback and Bolsonaro support does come Brazilian evangelicals.

And like the USA, in Brazil, a big source of underlying support for anything that disrupts government does come from those who make their money from resource extraction. In the US, the right is funded (partly) by corporations making money money from fossil fuels, ranching, logging, mining. In Brazil, it is all that but of course the Amazon is the very contentious bit since Lula’s party is going to do more to protect the Amazon and its inhabitants and. Bolsonaro is fine with selling the Amazon and killing its inhabitants.

So the international interests aren’t just those of similar sentiment but also those with similar economic goals, and of course sometimes the same people and corporations.


JRLRC 01.13.23 at 1:01 am


J-D 01.13.23 at 3:32 am

Thanks for that, I’ve been looking for something of that kind.


Ray Vinmad 01.13.23 at 1:10 pm

JRLRC–makes me realize that US could be stuck in this cycle, Trumpism v. anti-Trumpism, years down the line.

I always thought Trump was a caudillo more than anything else.

Unfortunately people only know about European systems but what is happening is more like Latin America than like Europe-corruption, rigid political camps based on perceived economic advantages flowing from corrupt politicians, sporadic violence at election time, contested elections, candidates that don’t concede, a social identity flowing from party identity, a weak state that can’t rein in the economic crimes of elites, some affiliation of rulers with transnational interests for financial gain, etc.

Of course, this is mostly the GOP for now.

The difference maybe is the urban v. rural thing, but maybe not. Fujimoristas were generally from rural areas I think?


engels 01.13.23 at 6:24 pm

As Steven Johnson says, they didn’t have the US on board this time.


nastywoman 01.13.23 at 9:50 pm

As Steven Johnson says, they didn’t have the US on board this time.

To be a bit more precise Brazils Crazy Right Wing Trumpets Election Deniers didn’t have the entire – so called ‘international community’ on board.
And that’s
as there wasn’t a single Representative of any (Western) Democracy in Brazil who didn’t warn Bolsonaro – that he CAN NOT reject the result of the election -(like ‘Trump)

And as some ‘Americans’ –
(we should not name) –
always seem to believe that it’s always some CIAFBI which STILL run’s the World and
there are only Americans telling everybody everywhere –
to behave –
let’s for a change suggest – that – like in the case of telling Putin to behave – Europeans actually play a much stronger role than any American FBICIA – as in this Century some SOFT European Power can become far mightier than any swords – especially if the Fighters against the Climate Crisis are involved and young international Activists did everything together with their Brazilian friends to get rid of the Right Wing Science Denier.
– and take that Johnson Engels!


engels 01.15.23 at 1:29 pm

Nastywoman, the CIA’s record of intervention in South America is rather more impressive than the European Commission’s or Greta Thunberg’s, and there is a long-standing rationale for this.


nastywoman 01.16.23 at 9:22 am

‘the CIA’s record of intervention in South America is rather more impressive than the European Commission’s or Greta Thunberg’s’

NOT for the moment –
NOT right now –
NOT for THIS moment in time! –
As Steven Johnson says, they didn’t have the US on board this time – and so please –
NO Nostalgia of some impressive times! -as Steven Johnson says, the CIAFBI wasn’t on board this time and it’s very much doubtful that –
it will be EVER again –
NOW! –
RIGHT NOW the CIAFBI is very busy with local American yokels and doesn’t play as much as a powerful role as the European Commission or Greta’s Followers – as I wasn’t mentioning ‘Greta’ BUT the millions of young Activists who everywhere in the World try to save our World AND helped to get rid of the Crazy Right Wing Science Denier in Brazil.

And it’s time that people everywhere in the World realise that in Brazil with the election of Lula – actually one of the utmost important WINS of fighting the Climate Crisis was won!


steven t johnson 01.16.23 at 11:53 am

engels@22 tricked me into reading a nastywoman comment, shame on me.

I’m not altogether certain who Escobar is, but the real US influence in Brazil would be via the military. I have no idea why the CIA would think mere disorders would prompt military intervention by generals who know their US counterparts who know their chain of command. Biden is president, commander in chief, he is not Trump, the red tsunami means Biden isn’t being impeached yesterday and the military isn’t following Trump’s orders.

The fact that Bolsonaro doesn’t plan to give the presidency to the military probably demotivates the generals. Domestic politics always plays a role, even if there is foreign influence/interference. And the same goes for the right-wing majority in the Brazilian legislature, they have to decide whether they want Bolsonaro or one of their own.

By the way, Lula is not an extreme lefty. But of course there are people who think FDR was practically a Communist. The acceptable spectrum of political opinion in the US is sharply limited, ranging from cryptofascist to cravenly moderate centrist. What would be right-wing Social Democratic in other times and places is barely visible and always toothless.

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