Riot demonstrators camp seeking military coup. Far right anti-democratic movement at headquarters of Brazilian Army - Rio de Janeiro Brazil 01.09.2023

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Far-right claims Brazilian coup attempt was government ‘false flag’ operation

The conspiratorial claims have already begun.


David Covucci


Posted on Jan 9, 2023   Updated on May 19, 2023, 6:42 am CDT

Yesterday, right-wing supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed both Congress and the presidential palace in the capital city of Brasilia. The protesters were able to occupy the National Congress, demanding that the military depose the current government.

Bolsonaro lost his re-election bid to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known widely as Lula, who was inaugurated just a few days ago.

Videos from the event show a large swatch of Bolsonaro supporters mobbing and overrunning Congress.

The protesters are demanding the military take control and reinstate Bolsonaro. In the aftermath of the attack, Lula pledged to fully prosecute anyone involved in what he called an act of “terrorism.”

The attack has already been compared to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, where far-right supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to try and halt certification of the 2020 election and keep President Joe Biden from taking office.

But the response to the riot also mirrors, in the immediate aftermath, a similar belief from the far-right in the wake of Jan. 6: that an attack might be staged to frame them.

Although Bolsonaro supporters have been whipped into a fervor for weeks on social media, with claims the election was stolen and the military should depose Lula, people also immediately tried to prove the attack was the work of the government. They claim the government instigated the riot in an attempt to frame and round up Bolsonaro’s biggest supporters.

“A whole false flag operation is unfolding, set up by the left together with the media (which wants to be backed by the PT) with the infiltration of Black Blocks to generate chaos and misinformation,” wrote one Twitter user in Portuguese.

“Post on all networks to show who is really breaking everything!!!! false flag,” wrote a Brazilian blogger.

In the wake of Jan. 6, a number of far-right defenders tried to identify people who they thought were government agents trying to instigate Trump supporters. While they believed they assembled peaceably, they also claim the government was able to convince the crowd to storm the Capitol and commit acts of insurrection.

“A CIA operation? A color revolution? A false flag operation? An inside job? There are many doubts. But this will serve as a pretext for a severe witch hunt against the right,” another user wrote.

On Telegram, a social network popular with the far-right, a number of users talked about how they’d seen this scene before.

“It’s always the same stupid playbook and people play along. Next step will be political prisoners and crook Lula’s ministry of truth,” wrote user Santa Surfing.

Others thought the attack was an excuse to deport Bolsonaro back to Brazil. Bolsonaro is currently residing in Florida in the wake of his loss.

Ali Alexander, whose Stop the Steal movement swelled into the eventual Capitol riot, expressed solidarity with Bolsonaro and pledged support on Telegram.

“We, Americans, have every obligation to protect and defend Bolsonaro’s stay with us,” he said.

“January Sixers,” he wrote, love “January Eighters.”

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2023, 11:15 am CST