WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

9 Jan 2023 | WOLA Statement

Violence in Brazil Highlights Urgent Need to Protect Democracy Across the Americas

The acts of violence and vandalism that took place against government buildings in Brasilia are a shocking illustration of the rising attacks against democracy taking place across the Americas and the need for governments to take decisive action to stop them.

On January 8, supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace. They refuse to accept the results of the elections that saw Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva elected as president last October and sworn into office on January 1, 2023. According to media reports, some of the people involved in the violence called for a military intervention to restore Bolsonaro to power or oust Lula from office.

“The attacks in Brasilia are the result of a dangerous discourse based on hatred, disinformation, and disregard for the rule of law relentlessly promoted by Bolsonaro during his time in office,” said Carolina Jiménez Sandoval, President at WOLA.

“President Lula’s promise to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence is a welcome first step. Bringing these individuals to the courts, including those who incited the violence, would send a strong message that no one is above the law.” 

“Democratic systems provide the best line of defense against human rights violations. This is why world leaders must continue to send the message that an attack against one democracy is an attack against all democracies,” said Jiménez Sandoval.

The attacks in Brasilia, which are reminiscent of the recent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, generated widespread condemnation from social and political leaders worldwide including from the Biden administration and numerous members of the U.S. Congress. The assaults on democracy that we have witnessed in recent years make clear that governments must take a firm stance against extremism and work to build and protect democratic ideals at home and across the globe.