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DC Edit | Brazil & US: A tale of two riots


Published on: January 11, 2023 | Updated on: January 11, 2023

President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Photo: AP)

The copycat is back in his eight-bedroom rented holiday villa from a hospital. Jair Bolsonaro, who adopted the Donald Trump playbook, may have to shift out of his lair in an Orlando, Florida, amusement park as pressure grows on the United States to get the right-wing authoritarian of Brazil to move on.

Having promised to make his country great again, Mr Bolsonaro had to keep spreading claims of election fraud once he lost the popular vote, though narrowly enough, in a run-off. He may shrug off charges of inciting the insurrection in Brasilia but circumstantial evidence would suggest otherwise.

The consequences of the actions of leaders like Mr Trump and Mr Bolsonaro can be brutal.  Those inciting an insurrection like Mr Trump did at the Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, and Mr Bolsonaro may have done in Brasilia where his ardent followers ransacked priceless national art treasures too while damaging such symbols of the might of a State like the Planalto Palace, the Congress and the Supreme Court, hardly ever pay the price.

The President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, universally known as just Lula, restored control in acting swiftly to empower federal intervention giving law enforcement the power to break up the riots. More than 1,500 rebels have been imprisoned and they were left complaining that the facilities were not good enough in the gymnasium they were being held in. Others of their ilk were causing disturbances even in their adopted home in Florida, US.

The bigger worry is the damage such leaders who show obvious fascist tendencies and act without responsibility when they lose elections are causing to the democratic principles on which nations of the free world thrive in. The events in Brazil prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who may have been seen Mr Bolsonaro as a friend once, to recognise the danger to democracy in insurrection when he reacted publicly about the threat to freedom.

The questioning of the electoral process undermines democracy somewhat, regardless of what doubts are raised over the operation of systems, whether they are based on manual counting or on EVMs. The greatest danger lies in insurrections that challenge the authority of the State. It will be interesting to see how democratic countries deal with the likes of The Donald and the "Trump of the Tropics", Mr Bolsonaro.