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January 8, 2023

Julia Tsarnas, SOUTHCOM Team

Salomon Montaguth, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Event: On Sunday, January 8, Bolsonaro supporters stormed and vandalized the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil. Hundreds of protestors climbed up the ramp to the roof of Congress while other protestors simultaneously invaded the lower level. The rioters demanded the resignation of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and a military overthrow of the government. Former president Bolsonaro challenged the results of the presidential runoff election, alleging election corruption.[2] Brazil’s Federal District Military Police (PMDF) used tear gas to disperse the invaders on federal property and over 200 protestors were arrested. Lula was on a trip in Sao Paulo but has vowed that rioters will be investigated and punished. He signed an emergency decree allowing federal government intervention in Brasilia and called the rioters “fascists” in a televised speech. Bolsonaro denounced the protests late on Sunday on Twitter, citing the destruction of public property as a hindrance to democracy.[3]

Significance: The invasion of the capital will likely escalate divisions between Brazilians, likely increasing the potential for future violence at protests. Congress will likely call for an investigation of the attack and establish a task force to determine the security vulnerabilities of the capital. Law enforcement officers will very likely investigate the perpetrators’ identities and attempt to reprimand them. The organized nature of the attack will likely generate an investigation into the role of social media and radicalized groups in the invasion. Bolsonaro did not directly incite the invasion and will unlikely encourage the actions of his followers, which has a roughly even chance of disbanding his supporters in the long term. Despite government intervention, right-wing Bolsonaro supporters will likely continue to believe Lula rigged the election and seek military support. This attack will likely degrade trust in the government from Brazilians, likely polarizing citizens on both sides. The invasion will very likely destabilize the nation, likely putting the Lula administration’s response in the spotlight. Lula, facing this challenge in the first week of his administration, will likely inhibit his goal of uniting Latin America with democracy.


  • CTG recommends the PMDF and other law enforcement agencies utilize SOCMINT to apprehend protestors who engage in vandalism or other violent acts. Immediate action against the perpetrators should significantly discourage additional attacks.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement analyze security footage from the attack to identify protestors and the vulnerabilities in their security. We also recommend security professionals of federal buildings be on high alert for further invasions and heightened defense protocols.

  • We recommend the Brazilian government increase its monitoring of far-right extremists by engaging in OSINT and SOCMINT. This will empower the government to detect future threats before they escalate.

  • CTG recommends governments with contentious elections make contingency plans and establish security protocols for potential invasions after the insurrections in Brazil and the US. We recommend these governments monitor online chatter after elections as previous insurrections set a precedent that it is possible to invade federal buildings.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email


[1] Brasilia by Google Earth

[3] Bolsonaro Supporters Lay Siege to Brazil’s Capital, NYTimes, January 2023,


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