Brazil is in the midst of deep polarisation between left- and right-leaning political forces, with the former's champion, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, narrowly prevailing over the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 presidential election. The road ahead could be rocky: Bolsonaro's loyalists are a sizeable bloc in the national legislature; his social base appears strong and defiant; and after several violent incidents marred the campaign, the risk of more cannot be discounted. The stakes of the struggle include the fate of the vast Amazon rainforest, which Lula has vowed to protect from logging, mining, ranching and other industries. Through advocacy and periodic reporting, Crisis Group works to lower the political temperature and encourage stability in the world's seventh most populous country.
Lula’s return to the presidency promises a stronger role for Brazil in multilateral diplomacy. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to make the most of this opportunity.
Days after Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s inauguration as president, Pro-Bolsonaro protesters stormed govt buildings, demanding military coup.
Rioters stormed govt buildings in attempt to reinstate Bolsonaro as president. Days after President Lula 1 Jan took office, supporters of former President Bolsonaro 8 Jan invaded presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court in capital Brasília, demanding military coup to reinstate Bolsonaro as president; they stole weaponry from vaults and caused millions of dollars in damage, including by smashing windows and furniture and destroying works of art. Lula same day declared state of emergency in Federal District, where Brasilia is located, until 31 Jan. Bolsonaro 9 Jan denied any involvement, claiming to have always acted lawfully.
Authorities arrested scores for attempted coup, evidence of army role in riots emerged. Police arrested over 1,500 protesters, 39 of whom were indicted by federal prosecutors on 16 Jan for crimes including attempted coup d’état. Supreme Court head Alexandre de Moraes 8 Jan suspended pro-Bolsonaro governor of Federal District Ibaneis Rocha for 90 days due to lack of action to contain protesters; Rocha 13 Jan responded, claiming army prevented police from removing pro-Bolsonaro protesters’ encampment in Brasília before riots. Police 10 Jan arrested former Commander of Federal District’s military police Colonel Fábio Augusto Vieira due to security lapses during riots; Vieira 12 Jan said army had twice blocked police from clearing encampment. Supreme Court 13 Jan approved request to investigate Bolsonaro’s role in protests. Authorities 14 Jan arrested Anderson Torres, Brasília’s security secretary and former minister of justice under Bolsonaro, on charges of “omission”; upon searching his home, they found draft decree that would allow electoral authorities to interfere with past presidential election results and annul Lula’s win. Lula 21 Jan fired army General Julio Cesar de Arruda for not following govt orders to dismantle pro-Bolsonaro tent. Police 27 Jan raided home of Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, Bolsonaro’s nephew, currently under investigation for role in riots.
The assault on Brazilian state institutions purposely evoked the 2021 incursion into the U.S. Capitol. As in the aftermath of that event, the job of law enforcement overlaps with the more delicate task of identifying the political and financial circles that made the riot possible.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood speaks with Ivan Briscoe and Renata Segura, Crisis Group’s Latin America director and deputy director, about President Lula’s election win in Brazil and whether a new group of leftist leaders across Latin America can help end some of the continent’s crises, notably in Venezuela and Haiti.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, risks losing his October bid for re-election. If he disputes the result, his shrinking but increasingly far-right support base might take to the streets. State institutions should prepare to deal with baseless fraud accusations and to curb possible violence.
As momentum builds for impeaching President Jair Bolsonaro, he relies on the armed forces for support. Will the generals stay the course? Could they break with him, at peril to their institutional interests? These questions, crucial to Brazilian politics, have no obvious answer.
Despite mishandling a pandemic that has claimed over 160,000 lives, Brazil’s president is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to emergency cash transfers and reduced political tensions. But his fortunes may turn, and the threat he poses to Brazilian democracy rise again.
The frontier between Brazil and its crisis-ridden neighbour Venezuela has become a major migration route, a hotspot for crime and a flashpoint for violence.
The frontier between Brazil and its crisis-ridden neighbour Venezuela has become a major migration route, a hotspot for crime and a flashpoint for violence. This is the first of three commentaries on Venezuela’s troubled borderlands.
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