Why Must Brazil Import the Worst Aspects of America?

Witnessing the events of January 8, 2023, with their eerie similarities to those of January 6, 2021, at Washington, prompts this plea: Start the revolution without me.

AP/Eraldo Peres
Supporters of Brazil's former president, Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building at Brasilia January 8, 2023. AP/Eraldo Peres

RIO DE JANEIRO — Having somehow survived 50 years in the so-called Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro, this correspondent can attest that Brazil is definitely not for beginners.

Why this unique, fascinating, and important nation and culture must import the worst aspects of my homeland, America, is my perennial question. So it is with the events of January 8, 2023, something of a tropical version of January 6, 2021, at Washington, D.C. 

This day saw savage destruction of Brazil’s supreme court and invasion of and pandemonium in its two houses of congress. At least eight professional journalists were attacked, and a mounted policeman was beaten by the “patriots.” So far, no deaths have been reported.

As I write this on the morning after, I read that two Brazilian senators have called for creating a commission of inquiry to discover who was really behind the attempted coup d’état. How long will the Brazilian inquiry into January 8 last, and who will be indicted, is the question.

The U.S. inquiry into January 6 recently concluded in Washington with finger pointed at President Trump, who just happens to be the idol of Brazil’s recently defeated president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is in Orlando on his way to Disneyland, he claims, and an eventual stay at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence-resort in Florida.

The good (and bad?) news today is that two members of the U.S. Congress, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of my home state of New York, have called for President Biden’s administration to extradite Bozo to Brazil. Since December 30, his absence and silence has resulted in a quieter, happier, and more peaceful Brazil. 

Bozo’s physical presence back in his homeland could further stir up a tempest, because it usually takes a long time in this wondrous continent called Brazil to put VIPs in jail and keep them there. (The latest reports indicated Bozo was seeking Italian citizenship.)

Getting back to January 8: The tumult did not surprise this observer, because a few blocks from where I reside in Copacabana, peaceful Sundays have been disrupted by crowds of pro-Bolsonaro supporters waving the Brazilian flag as if it belonged to them only, and screaming for the military to intervene since his election loss.

Always wishing to be an eyewitness to reality, I dared to step out on the street during the latest pro-Bolsonaro demonstration near my humble dwelling place in Copacabana, as crowds marched to the beautiful Avenida Atlantica boardwalk area.

“Communists,” one of the marchers screamed, and this observer feared that more than one of these “patriots” was armed as a result of laws their leader had signed. I received more than a few messages inquiring about my safety, and can assure that I am a-okay. 

I have witnessed a coup d’état, while in Guatemala, where the United States Information-Cultural Service sent me to perform an oboe recital. I was driven to my concert hall in an armored car, and had to pass the electronic checkpoints guaranteeing there were no armaments, bombs, or grenades in my oboe case.

This time around, though, please, start the revolution without me.

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