Steve Bannon calls Bolsonaro protesters ‘freedom fighters’

Former Trump adviser falsely claims ‘Lula stole the Election’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 09 January 2023 05:22 GMT

Bolsonaro supporters storm National Congress in Brazil

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon lauded supporters of Brazil’s former president and Trump ally Jair Bolsonaro who stormed the Congress and other government buildings in capital Brasilia.

Thousands of people attacked the country’s Congress, supreme court and the presidential palace in violence reminiscent of the US Capitol insurrection that took place two years ago.

“Brazilian Freedom Fighters,” wrote the far-right Donald Trump ally in a post on Sunday on conservative social media app Gettr after Bolsonaro supporters broke through a blockade set up by security forces and invaded the government buildings.

Mr Bannon has been accused of stoking tensions in Brazil by invoking claims of election fraud – similar to debunked rumours spread after the 2020 US presidential elections.

On his War Room podcast on 5 January 2021, Mr Bannon had encouraged listeners eager for “revolution” to go to Washington. “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” he had said.

In October 2022, he was sentenced to four months in prison and fined $6,500 for refusing to honour a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan 6 riots.

The podcast host, along with other Trump advisers, continued to spread false claims of a stolen election amid footage that emerged of the storming that showed hundreds of people dressed in green and yellow ransacking various official buildings.

The one-time Trump adviser promoted the hashtag “BrazilianSpring” to encourage Bolsonaro supporters despite the former president earlier last year having acknowledged being defeated, but reportedly stopping short of a concession.

“What’s happening in Brazil is a world event,” Mr Bannon told The Washington Post. “The people are saying they’ve been grossly disenfranchised. [The movement] has moved beyond the Bolsonaros in the way that in the US it has moved beyond Trump.”

Steve Bannon lauds supporters of Jair Bolsonaro for storming government buildings

On Sunday, Mr Bannon repeatedly wrote “Lula stole the Election... Brazilians know this... Release the Machines” on his Gettr account, referring to Brazil’s newly inaugurated president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“Lula is a Marxist criminal,” he said in a different post.

“The Criminal Atheistic Marxist Lula stole the Election and the Brazilians know this… now see Lula crackdown like all Communist dictators,” he added in yet another Gettr post.

Right-wing rally organiser Ali Alexander similarly cheered the Brazilian incursion, saying, “I do NOT denounce unannounced impromptu Capitol tours by the people.”

Meanwhile, local police arrested over 400 people as authorities cleared out rioters from the government buildings.

The new Brazilian president, commonly known as Lula, condemned the attack.

“These vandals, who we could call fanatical Nazis, fanatical Stalinists... fanatical fascists, did what has never been done in the history of this country,” he said at a press conference, declaring a “federal security intervention” in the capital until the end of the month.

“All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished.”

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