Thousands of people who liked former President Jair Bolsonaro broke into the presidential palace and trashed government buildings in the Brazilian capital. This sent shockwaves all over the hemisphere. But on Monday morning, one of the main U.S. voices telling Bolsonaro supporters to question the results of the country’s presidential election last year did not stop.
In an interview, Steve Bannon, who used to work for Trump, said, “I’m not giving an inch on this.” Earlier in the day, he said again that there was election fraud in Brazil and asked the president who beat Bolsonaro, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to look into it.
“Open the report, the code, the tabulator, and the machines… “Be open and let the people of Brazil see,” Bannon said on his podcast “War Room.” Bannon’s support for the protesters, who he called “freedom fighters,” has led to more criticism of both him and the larger MAGA movement, which has spread election denial at home and abroad.
The violent outburst in Brasilia on Sunday was quickly compared to a riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when an angry crowd protested Donald Trump’s loss and the fact that they thought the election was rigged. Lula beat Bolsonaro in a runoff for the presidency, but Bolsonaro never officially gave up.
In a later report, the military pointed out technical problems with Brazil’s voting system, but they didn’t find any evidence of vote rigging. Bolsonaro’s supporters, on the other hand, have kept showing up in the streets to protest the election.
They have found people in the U.S. who agree with them. Bannon and other far-right commentators have been following the protests in Brazil for months and telling the protesters to keep questioning the results. Bannon said that he has kept in touch with Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is the son of Jair Bolsonaro. And in the U.S., conservative political groups have joined forces with Bolsonaro, who used to be president.
In the past few years, the powerful conservative group CPAC has held conferences in Brazil where Bolsonaro and his allies have spoken. And in the middle of November, Bolsonaro went to the gala for the America First Policy Institute. The event was held at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago club. Later, the younger Bolsonaro joined Trump, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, AFPI chair Linda McMahon, and Trump aides Sergio Gor and Boris Epshteyn at a table on the patio.
During Trump’s time in office, he was very close to Bolsonaro. He supported Bolsonaro’s reelection and agreed with him on a wide range of issues, from downplaying the threat of Covid to being openly hostile to the press. Bolsonaro, who has been called “the Trump of the Tropics,” was one of the world leaders that Trump called a “great friend.”
During the last days of Eduardo Bolsonaro’s presidency, he and his wife, Heloisa, went to the Trump White House to meet with Ivanka Trump. On that Jan. 4 trip, Brazil’s ambassador, Nestor Forster Jr., went with them. Eduardo posted a picture of Ivanka Trump holding his child after the meeting.
But advisers say the relationship has cooled since Jair Bolsonaro was removed from office. The former president of Brazil has moved to Florida, but he hasn’t stopped by to see Trump, who lives nearby in the Sunshine State.
Multiple people have said that Bolsonaro did not spend New Year’s Eve with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Bolsonaro had been said to have planned to spend the holiday there instead of in Brazil, where his political rival was being sworn in. People close to Trump say that even though he backed Bolsonaro’s campaign, he has nothing to do with the unrest in Brazil. This is a view shared by others on the right.
“They’re both yesterday’s news. Bolsonaro is now a citizen and is in Florida, and the protests are about the supreme court and Lula’s cronies destroying sovereignty and the constitution,” said Matthew Tyrmand, a conservative activist who often appears on Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. He denied that there are any connections between Trump and Bolsonaro. “The only thing that ties [Jan. 8 and 6] together is that people are angry and don’t trust the government.”
But they are also alike in another way. Like in the U.S., people on the right questioned the legitimacy of the election results in Brazil, which led to protests. Tyrmand has repeated Bannon’s claims of election fraud, and he is also among those who have pointed to corruption claims against Lula, such as the charges of money laundering that came after an investigation into a huge bribery scandal called “Operation Car Wash.” Dozens of politicians in Brazil lost their jobs because of the scandal, but Lula’s case was later thrown out.
Even after the election, these accusations have not stopped. In a video appearance at CPAC Mexico in November, Bannon said that the protests have “gone beyond the Bolsonaros. This is a fight that is saying, you went beyond the constitution. You used these machines, the judiciary, to shut us down in the media, and we’re not going to tolerate it. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out.” Eduardo Bolsonaro posted the video of his speech on social media.
On Monday, he brought up these ideas again. Bannon told, “The people down there aren’t watching ‘Bannon War Room.'” “There are a lot of people on the streets. It’s a protest that people are putting together on their own. Jair Bolsonaro has stayed mostly quiet through it all.
He did, however, criticize the protesters in a tweet on Sunday night and deny that he had anything to do with planning or carrying out the riots in Brazil’s capital. Since he lost his election in October, the leader of the far right hasn’t accepted that he lost. He lives in the suburbs of Orlando, where he has been seen eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and other tasty American foods. Reports from Brazil say that he was taken to the hospital on Monday for stomach pain.
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