Historicizing the Failed Coup Attempt in Brazil

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James Perkovich


On January 8, 2023, thousands of supporters of the former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court, and Congress in Brazil’s capital, Brasília.1 Many people in Brazil recognized the attack as an attempt to inspire a military coup and labeled those involved golpistas, a term used to describe the people who carry out a coup.2 The golpistas were trying to force the military to overturn the election of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the face of Brazil’s progressive Worker’s Party, who won a third presidential term in the 2022 election. Bolsonaro began spreading lies about Brazil’s voting system and the election results even before he officially lost the election, leading many of his supporters to camp outside military bases for weeks before January 8.3 Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida without officially conceding defeat, and on the next day, January 1, President Lula, as he is popularly known, was inaugurated.4

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