Mexico City, Mexico, January 9, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro emphatically denounced a violent coup attempt against his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva after followers of former President Jair Bolsonaro attacked several buildings in the Brazilian capital on Sunday.
“We categorically reject the violence generated by Bolsonaro's neo-fascist groups that have assaulted the democratic institutions of Brazil,” read a statement issued by Maduro.
Demonstrators who falsely claim that Lula’s 2022 election was fraudulent descended on Brasilia and called on the Armed Forces to intervene and oust the democratically elected government, which took office on January 1. The right-wing mob, through the complicity of the capital’s security forces, invaded various government installations in Brasilia, including the Government Palace, the Supreme Court and the National Congress.
Lula, who was not in the capital during the attack, was unequivocal in his denunciation of the rioter’s actions and promised to punish those responsible, including their financiers.
"All the people who did this will be found and punished," he said on Sunday night after ordering federal security forces to retake control of the capital.
Gleisi Hoffmann, president of Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) pointed the finger at the social base that makes up Bolsonaro’s support.
"What's happening in Brasilia is neither a mass movement, nor spontaneous. It's organized by bandits who have very objective interests: illegal mining, illegal land grabbing, liberation of weapons, militias, and other things, all blessed by Bolsonaro," said Hoffmann.
The anti-government protest had been planned for weeks on social media platforms, with organizers clear in their intentions to carry out a violent occupation. Brasilia’s militarized police force, controlled by local governor and Bolsonaro ally Ibaneis Rocha, nonetheless, did not take measures to prevent the attack.
Lula specifically accused state police of doing nothing to stop the mob. Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered Rocha removed from office for 90 days over the incident.
The violent attacks in Brasilia was similarly condemned by presidents throughout the region, including Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Argentina’s Alberto Fernández, who in his capacity as the head of both the Community of Latin American States (CELAC) and Mercosur, called on the region’s leaders to be alert.
“My unconditional support and that of the Argentine people to [Lula] in the face of this attempted coup d'état that they are confronting,” wrote Fernández.
US President Joe Biden also condemned the actions of the right-wing mob, calling them "outrageous".
Although Sunday’s assault drew numerous comparisons to the attack on the U.S. Capitol two years ago by backers of former President Donald Trump, the episode has similar parallels in recent unconstitutional power grabs by the right throughout Latin America.
Venezuela was subjected to similar violent protests in 2013, 2014 and 2017 following electoral contests that saw the Socialists re-elected. In those cases, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition promoted unfounded claims of election fraud and encouraged their supporters to violently demonstrate as well as target government buildings.
Unlike Brazil, however, the Venezuelan opposition’s claims were endorsed by Washington and its allies. Likewise in Bolivia, the opposition's false claims of fraud in the 2019 presidential election were backed by the US and the Organization of American States (OAS), culminating in a coup that saw President Evo Morales ousted from office.
The timing of the protest in Brasilia, one week after Lula’s inauguration, could signal the beginning of a long destabilization campaign by Brazil’s right-wing forces as has been done by their counterparts in Venezuela and Bolivia. Bolsonaro’s supporters continued to stage protests in several cities throughout Sunday and into Monday, with a presidential spokesperson claiming that demonstrators were trying to block roads and access to oil refineries.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro called on the OAS to invoke its Democratic Charter in response to Sunday’s events. The Charter is ostensibly designed to uphold democratic institutions in OAS member-states but has in recent years become an instrument used to justify intervention in countries targeted for regime change by Washington, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Mérida.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get news and analysis in your inbox
Venezuelanalysis is 100% sustained by readers. Consider supporting our independent, on-the-ground work