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Brazilian protests spark conversation around democratic election results

Photo used with permission from Sérgio Lima/Poder360
Bolsonaro supporters infiltrate the National Congress by breaking through protective police barriers Jan. 8. The results of the Brazil 2022 presidential elections incited outrage, leading to protests and riots across the country.

Supporters of Brazil’s far-right Former President Jair Bolsonaro protested the inauguration of new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasília Jan. 8. Thousands of his supporters invaded Brazil’s Congress, Presidential Palace and Supreme Court, according to Sky News.

Both Bolsonaro and Lula have faced criticism for various controversies over their terms, including Lula’s corruption scandal with the Brazilian government and Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

Johannes van Zuydam (’23), a citizen of Brazil, said he was stunned by the result of Brazil’s presidential election, especially being Brazilian himself. 

“I was very surprised that the people of Brazil decided that Lula was the best choice,” van Zuydam said. “I was a bit shocked that a person who was in jail and one who took money from the government was elected.”

On the other hand, Ana Costa (’23), who is Brazilian, said although neither candidate was ideal, she agrees more with Lula’s political ideology. 

“In a lot of cases, you dislike both candidates but you want one to win more than the other,” Costa said. “From what I know about Bolsonaro’s beliefs and views and what he stands for, I was glad to see Lula win because I think he aligns more with my political visions.” 

Citizens voted using an electronic ballot system created by Brazilian authorities, which runs on a program written by a source code. Bolsonaro claimed that electronic voting fraud occurred in this past election, which provoked pro-Bolsonaro protestors to demand for this source code, according to the Brazilian Report.

Sophia Bateman

Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto, a Brazilian citizen, said the source code is unlikely to explicitly reveal instances of fraud.

“As a computer science teacher, I am guessing that they might not find fraud if they looked at just the source code, but it might show whether or not there is an error in the machine since they have been using this code,” Piloto said. 

Moreover, Piloto said fraud allegations are the main reason for the protests. 

“The protests are happening mainly because they’re just angry that nothing has happened to recount the votes … and so people really do feel like there is fraud happening,” Piloto said. “People just want proof. That’s it, and that’s the whole reasoning behind the protests.” 

In continuation, Piloto said since the right to protest is integral in upholding a democracy, the protesting should be allowed.

“If the citizens aren’t satisfied with how the government is running things, then they should vocalize it, and I think that’s important in any country,” Piloto said.

Meanwhile, Costa said she believes Bolsonaro supporters are on the fanatic edge of society and have the potential to instigate violence. 

“From what I’ve heard from a lot of my family members, people are scared of how extreme Bolsonaro supporters can be in terms of violence,” Costa said. “I think that is the line where it gets to be too much.”

With the invasion of the Brazilian National Congress occurring only days after the two-year anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, similarities were found between them, according to The New York Times. In both, a defeated right-wing president alleged fraud, ultimately leading to a crowd of their supporters attacking Congress.

Van Zuydam said the protests in Brazil were eerily alike to the U.S. Capitol riot.

“They were very similar occurrences in which a radicalized group decided to take matters into their own hands to try and correct what they thought was wrong,” van Zuydam said. 

Furthermore, Costa said both Bolsonaro and Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s behaviors helped instigate the protests. 

 “Bolsonaro not being able to respect Lula and respect the fact that he won just feeds into his supporters,” Costa said. “Bolsonaro thought that it wasn’t a fair election and that it was stolen from him, which is very similar to what Trump said and how Trump motivated his supporters to storm the Capitol, so there’s a lot of parallels between the two.” 

Likewise, Costa said the resemblance between both protests came very unexpectedly. 

“I saw it happen in the U.S. and I never thought something like that would happen in Brazil,” Costa said. “I expected some sort of pushback, but not something so extreme.” 

There’s a lot of people that feel like democracy has ended in Brazil, and then there’s a lot of people that feel that the protests are just like a toddler tantrum of people who won’t concede to the winning president.

— Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto

In addition, Costa said the intensity of the protests and resistance in Brazil will lessen with time. 

“There is always going to be that opposition between the two candidates’ groups, but I think it’s going to be less intense as the presidency goes on, especially if Lula does some good for Brazil,” Costa said. 

Overall, Piloto said the concept of whether a democratic structure is still present has sparked debate among the Brazilian people. 

“There’s a lot of people that feel like democracy has ended in Brazil, and then there’s a lot of people that feel that the protests are just like a toddler tantrum of people who won’t concede to the winning president,” Piloto said. 

Van Zuydam said the presidential elections were indeed democratic, and therefore, Lula should remain president.

“I think Brazilian democracy has been carried out,” van Zuydam said. “Regardless if you’re a diehard Bolsonaro fan, his government has been handed over and the people chose this. There’s not really much we can do about it now that could change it.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Bateman
Sophia Bateman, Lead Features Editor
Sophia Bateman (’25) is the Lead Features Editor for The Standard. She joined the newspaper as a staff writer in Grade 9 because she admired collaboration among the staff and wanted a platform to express her voice. Outside of journalism, Bateman leads the Student Ambassador program and enjoys computer science.
Nassef Sawiris
Nassef Sawiris, Lead Sports Editor
Nassef Sawiris (’25) is the Lead Sports Editor for The Standard, and this is his third year in the publication. Sawiris began his journalism career 5 years ago on the Middle School newspaper, The Scroll. His love for writing covers various topics with the common goal of arguing his opinion and educating the community on issues he feels passionate about. He continues to actively participate in other extracurricular activities such as his role on the varsity soccer team along with his leadership position in the Investment Club.

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