The coup attempt is underway in Brazil by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro. Today, a far right mob numbering in the thousands stormed the headquarters of the Supreme Court, Presidency, and Congress of Brazil in the capital and ransacked them. They are calling for military intervention against the government of president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva of the progressive Workers Party, who defeated Bolsonaro in democratic elections held last year.
Right now, Jair Bolsonaro is in the United States, having fled here right before Lula assumed office last Sunday. Anderson Torres, formerly Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister who was appointed the Minister of Public Security of the capital city Brasilia last week, is also in the United States. Torres appears to have played a key role facilitating today’s attack, and Bolsonaro has clearly been intentionally laying the political basis for such a coup attempt for months with his false claims of election fraud. Neither should be given safe haven by the government of the United States – they should face justice in Brazil for their crimes.
Brazil’s Congress, Presidential Palace, and Supreme Court headquarters are located in a single plaza in Brasilia, whose governor is a Bolsonaro supporter. A mob of thousands with the apparent assistance of some elements of the security forces gathered today and marched on the plaza. Gleisi Hoffmann, the head of the Workers Party, stated that, “The [Federal District] government was irresponsible in the face of the invasion of Brasília and the National Congress. It is a crime against democracy.”
Lula was out of the capital, assisting victims of flooding in the city of Araraquara. Several hours after the attack, he addressed the nation and announced that he was mobilizing federal security forces to reestablish order and defend democracy in the face of this outrageous assault. “Those people we call fascists, the most abominable thing in politics, invaded the [presidential] palace and Congress,” Lula said, and denounced the, “incompetence and bad faith of the people who take care of the security of [Brasilia]”. Earlier in the day, Minister of Justice Flávio Dino pledged that, “This absurd attempt to impose their will by force will not prevail.”
Bolsonaro appears to be isolated internationally, but not because he is an opponent of the United States and other imperial powers — even the Biden administration and other western governments know that openly supporting a Bolsonaro putsch, just after his electoral defeat, would only further destabilize and discredit imperialism in Latin America and worldwide.
This coup attempt comes as Brazilian politics is at a crossroads. From 2019 through the end of last year, Bolsonaro’s government has pursued policies that caused disaster after disaster in Brazil. He is responsible for criminal mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic, anti-worker economic policies, massive environmental destruction, and much more. He has promoted vicious, deadly racism targeting Afro-Brazilians and Indigenous Brazilians, and espouses disgustingly bigoted views against women and LGBTQ people.
Bolsonaro’s fascistic tendencies have deep roots in Brazilian politics – he is a supporter of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, which was an ally of the United States. Lula emerged as a national political figure as an opponent of this murderous regime, and the people’s movements of Brazil remain determined to defend hard-won democratic rights.
Bolsonaro’s rise to power was made possible by the parliamentary coup that removed the Workers Party from power in 2016. Then-president Dilma Rousseff was impeached from office on trumped-up charges by the right wing-controlled Congress. And in a plot that has now been exposed to the public, right-wing prosecutors and judges conspired to manufacture bogus corruption charges against Lula, the most popular political figure in the country who had led the first Workers Party administration from 2003 to 2010. In 2018, Lula was sent to prison on these completely baseless accusations. This prevented him from participating in that year’s presidential election, where all the polls predicted him prevailing over Bolsonaro.
But thanks to a mass movement of people in Brazil, joined by supporters the world over, Lula was freed from prison in 2019. He won last year’s presidential election, pledging to rebuild the country after the devastation of the Bolsonaro years, implement social programs to tackle hunger and poverty, and pursue an independent foreign policy that supports the unity of Latin America. The events of today are a desperate attempt by the far right to overturn the democratic will of the majority of Brazilians.
[Article based on the statement issued by the Party for Socialism and Liberation]