The attack on Brazil’s seat of government is similar to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021

A defeated president falsely claims an election was fraudulent. After months of baseless allegations of fraud, an angry mob of his supporters storms Congress. They overwhelm the police and vandalize the seat of the national government, threatening the country’s democratic institutions.

The similarities between Sunday’s mob violence in Brazil and the attack on the US capital on January 6, 2021 are obvious: Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing former president of Brazil, had been trying for months to undermine the results of an election that he lost in much the same the way Donald Trump did after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Trump allies who had helped spread lies about the 2020 election have turned to casting doubt on the results of Brazil’s October presidential election.

These efforts by Bolsonaro and his allies have now culminated in an attempt – however unlikely – to overturn the results of Brazil’s elections and restore the former president to power. In much the same way as on January 6, the mob that descended on the Brazilian capital overpowered the police in the perimeter of the building that houses the Congress and swept into the halls of power – breaking windows, taking valuable objects and posing for pictures in the abandoned legislation. chambers.

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The two attacks don’t exactly match. The mob on January 6 tried to stop the official certification of the results of the 2020 election, a final, ceremonial step taken before new President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20.

But Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s new president, was sworn in more than a week ago. The results of the presidential election have been confirmed by the country’s electoral court, not its legislature. There was no official procedure to disrupt Sunday, and the Brazilian Congress was not in session.

The Jan. 6, 2021, mob violence “went right into the heart of the changing government,” and the attack in Brazil is not “so heavily weighted with that kind of symbolism,” said Carl Tobias, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond.

And Bolsonaro, who has had strong ties with Trump throughout their years in office, was nowhere near the capital, having taken up residence in Orlando, Florida, about 150 miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach , Florida.

Nevertheless, the riot in Brasília drew widespread condemnation, including from US lawmakers, with many Democrats comparing it to the storming of the US capital.

“The democracies of the world must act quickly to make clear that there will be no support for right-wing rebels storming the Brazilian Congress,” wrote Rep. Jamie Raskin on Twitter. “These fascists who model themselves after Trump’s rioters on January 6 must end up in the same place: jail.”

Rep. George Santos, a Republican from New York under criminal investigation by Brazilian authorities, appeared to be one of the first elected officials from his party to condemn the mob violence in a post on Twitter on Sunday, but he made no connection to the Jan. 6 .

Many of the lawmakers who condemned the violence had lived through the attack on the Capitol that took place just over two years ago. Raskin was the lead prosecutor in Trump’s second impeachment trial over his role in inciting the mob.

In a final echo of the attack on Sunday, January 6, hours after the riots in Brazil began, Bolsonaro posted a message on social media calling for peace, as Trump did. The authorities had already announced that they had the situation under control.

© 2023 The New York Times Company

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