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‘For Freedom and Democracy’: A Million Brazilians March Against President Lula’s Authoritarian Regime

“The protests take place amid concerns that Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, is currently installing a brutal authoritarian regime based on the radical suppression of basic human rights and freedoms.”


At least one million Brazilians flocked the streets of São Paulo this Sunday against the relentless attacks on democracy and human rights by their leftist government.[1] The protests take place amid concerns that Brazil’s President, Lula da Silva, is currently installing a brutal authoritarian regime based on the radical suppression of basic human rights and freedoms. The protesters heard declarations defending free speech and freedom of the press, which the far-left administration of President Lula has repeatedly violated during his controversial administration.

This massive anti-government, pro-democracy demonstration was not publicised even by the local press. A Google search does not find anything about these peaceful demonstrations for democracy and basic human rights. Even foreign reporters who seek to report on these protests are being seriously punished. For example, Portuguese reporter Sergio Tavares was detained Monday at the São Paulo airport. The federal police withheld his passport because he came to publicise the demonstration. He was then questioned by the federal police regarding his statements about electoral fraud, judicial activism, about January 8th, and about vaccines.[2]

The constitutional right to freedom of political communication in Brazil is now no more than legal fiction. This Latin American country today has more than 1,500 political prisoners facing much harsher sentences than those of rapists, drug traffickers and murderers. Opposing the ongoing installation of a highly oppressive far-left dictatorial regime (and its judicial lackeys) now constitutes a very serious crime in the country, with sentences of up to 17 years or more.[3]

On 9 January 2023, around 1,200 people were detained as part of the dismantling of a political protesters’ camp in Brasília.[4] These people were advocating against the lack of transparency and credibility of an entirely electronic voting system. Many of them were elderly and children.[5] When they were all sent to the high-security prison, these prisoners were forced to receive mRNA vaccines in clear violation of the Nuremberg Code.[6] On that very day, the Human Rights Minister, Silvio Almeida, released an official communication to inform that these political prisoners are “terrorists” who deserve no human-rights protection.[7]

Whoever dares to question the transparency of the last presidential election “must be treated like criminals”, admonishes Alexandre Moraes, a highly controversial judge of the Brazilian Supreme Court.[8] As noted by The New York Times, “Justice Moraes has acted unilaterally, emboldened by new powers the court granted itself in 2019 that allow it to, in effect, act as an investigator, prosecutor and judge all at once”.[9] On 21 November 2023, President Lula awarded Justice Moraes with the Rio Branco Medal of Merit, an honor given only for those who have accomplished “meritorious services and civic virtues”.[10]

The election of President Lula da Silva was confirmed by highly politicised judges such as Justice Moraes. The problem, however, is that millions of Brazilians simply do not believe that Lula would ever be elected by normal democratic means.[11] Of course, it was definitely an unexpected comeback for a notoriously corrupt politician, an unpopular ex-president who was directly responsible for the biggest series of corruption scandals in the nation’s history.[12] Lula is “after bankrupting Brazil … is back at the scene of the crime”, said a few years ago Geraldo Alckmin, his own Vice-President.[13]

Lula da Silva was sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison for widespread corruption and money laundering. However, he spent only a year and a half in jail because, in 2021, a judge of the Supreme Court annulled all these convictions on entirely technical grounds. The court did not say a word about Lula’s culpability – demonstrated in three court decisions, before nine judges, and in a series of criminal proceedings where there were numerous confessing witnesses, plea bargains and even the return of stolen money. Instead, the court simply stated that the former president should not have been prosecuted in the city of Curitiba, but rather in Brasilia,[14] thus restoring Lula’s political rights that enabled him to run for this year’s presidential election.[15]

President Lula has stated, back in 2 October 2002, to the French newspaper Le Monde, that he “strongly believes that every election is a farce and a mere step to take power”.[16] On 5 October 2002, his then foreign affairs advisor, Marco Aurélio Garcia, in an interview with Argentina’s leading newspaper, La Nación, claimed that, once in power, Lula would have no interest in preserving democracy. Lula told that newspaper: “We have to first give the impression that we are democrats, initially; we have to accept certain things. But that won’t last”.[17]

After knowing these facts, who would dare say that these presidential elections in Brazil were necessarily fair and transparent?

One of the arguments put forward by so many Brazilians is that some electronic ballot boxes showed the former president, Jair Bolsonaro, with no vote, that is, a 0 (zero) vote. Economist Marcos Cintra, a former Secretary of the Federal Revenue, thinks it is simply impossible to find an explanation for the strange result in hundreds of electronic ballot boxes that he has checked.[18] “There are hundreds, if not thousands of such ballot boxes with equally improbable votes”, he says. [19]  Cintra, by the way, is a well-known opponent of the former President Jair Bolsonaro, who he considers “incapable of running the country”.[20] However, when he dared to raise concerns about the transparency of electronic voting machines, his Twitter account was suspended as a result of a court order of the electoral tribunal. [21]

Although the introduction of paper-based voting would make the counting of votes more time-consuming, at least this would deliver more confidence in the results than the present electronic system. The paper-based proposal was rejected by the federal legislature due to the aggressive political lobbying of the then top electoral judge, Luís Roberto Barroso, a justice of the Supreme Court, who is a “vociferous opponent of Bolsonaro”.[22] On 19 February 2022,  Justice Barroso spoke at the Texas University Law School on the topic of ‘Ditching a President’.[23] On 9 August 2021, heo twitted that, in Brazil, “election isn’t won if it is not taken”.[24]  According to geography professor Licio Malheiros,

When a comment of this magnitude is uttered by a justice of the Supreme Court (STF), the higher court and last instance of appeal within the Brazilian judiciary, there has greater weight in negativity because it is a clear affront to democracy. This sentence, which is surreal, shameful, immoral, aggressive and of vexatious potential, mind you, was uttered by no less than an illustrious justice of the Supreme Court, Luís Roberto Barroso, who until recently presided over the Superior Electoral Court.[25]

After knowing all these extraordinary things, who would dare say that these presidential elections in Brazil were fair and transparent? As two U.S. journalists stated in The New York Times, “the court’s expanding influence [had] major implications for the winner of the presidential vote”.[26] Due in part to the fact that unelected judges, including those responsible for overseeing the recent presidential election, were ostensibly playing a political role that isnot fitting to the judicial function, millions of Brazilians have therefore a good reason to not believe in the reliability and transparency of the electronic voting system.[27]

Jair Bolsonaro, who sought re-election in that presidential election, relied on the messaging app Telegram to reach his voter base.[28] However, on 18 March 2022, Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered the nationwide suspension of Telegram.[29] Not only did a court order shutdown his Telegram app nationwide but also ordered Apple and Google to introduce “technological obstacles” to block Telegram on their operating systems and withdraw it from their digital stores in Brazil.[30] The social media outlet Rumble is presently banned from Brazil for the “crime” of upholding freedom of speech.  

Freedom of speech is protected by Article 5, IV, of the Brazilian Constitution, which provides that“the manifestation of thought is free and anonymity is protected”. Apparently, however, nobody in Brazil is allowed to criticise judges or the government. Whoever dares to do so runs the risk of being arrested and prosecuted. Some businessmen have had their social media and bank accounts blocked, including Meyer Joseph Nigri, chairman and former CEO of property developer Tecnisa; Jose Isaac Peres, founder of shopping mall company Multiplan; and Afranio Barreira Filho, owner of restaurant chain Coco Bambu.[31]

American/Globalist Oligarchical Interference

There is, however, a decisive international element in Lula da Silva’s electoral victory. In August 2021, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Brazil to issue the following warning to the Brazilian president: do not even dare to question the reliability of the country’s electronic voting system.[32] A month earlier, in July 2021, US President Joe Biden sent his CIA director William Burns to travel to the country to meet with senior Brazilian officials. During that meeting, the U.S. delegation warned the Brazilian government that Bolsonaro “should stop casting doubt in his country’s electronic electoral process”.[33] In a June 2022 meeting of the “Summit of the Americas” in Los Angeles, the Biden administration repeated the same threat that the U.S. government would not tolerate anyone casting doubt on the reliability and security of  Brazil’s voting machines.[34] Since these threats were made before the outcome of the election, this was a clear warning of dire consequences should the government contest the electronic electoral process. [35]

On 28 September 2022, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution recommending the suspension of US-Brazil relations in case of any questioning of the security and transparency of electronic voting in Brazil, “otherwise the U.S. must consider its relations with the Brazilian government and suspend cooperation programs, including in the military area”, says the resolution.[36] No senator, not even from the Republican Party, opposed the text presented by Senators Tim Kaine and Bernie Sanders.[37]

But why would the Biden administration try to prevent anyone from questioning the validity of electronic voting in Brazil?

In trying to answer this important question, U.S. political commentator Gamaliel Isaac comments: “Maybe Biden is afraid that the Brazilians will uncover evidence of fraud in the Brazilian election that will somehow lead to uncovering of evidence of fraud in the American election … Does Biden know there was electoral fraud in Brazil and that there was electoral fraud in the United States and so want to silence anyone who says there was fraud?” [38] Or maybe, Isaac continues, this has nothing to do with that election in the United States. He wonders if the Chinese Government may have something to do with this.[39] According to him, “China wanted Lula to win and China has a lot of influence over Biden partly because of donations to the Biden Center and probably because of donations to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter”.[40]

Curiously, just after a few outlets called the election in Brazil, the U.S. President orchestrated a rapid international embrace of Lula. In short order, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak all released statements congratulating Lula.[41] In a Twitter post, Macron, reacting to the protests in Brazil, said that Lula could count on France’s “unwavering support”.[42]Likewise, the European Union released a statement alleging ‘the effective and transparent manner it conducted its constitutional mandate throughout all stages of the electoral process, demonstrating once again the strength of Brazil’s institutions and its democracy’.[43] President Biden himself claimed that Lula had won “following free, fair, and credible elections”.[44]

But was there any reason to state that those elections were fair and transparent? Aren’t we expected to believe that elections must be fair and transparent? And now millions of Brazilians are turning out to protest against the lack of electoral transparency and also against the installation of a brutal leftist dictatorship. These concerned Brazilians took to the streets this Sunday to protest against a notoriously corrupt President who not only has been controversially elected but who is now using unelected members of the Supreme Court to persecute and arrest all his political dissidents.

The election of a corrupt, far-left politician, of course, received the endorsement of global oligarchs, including those presently controlling the American Government. Lula’s election and modus operandi have been encouraged by the oligarchic power leadership and globalist forces of the world. They have all claimed that the election of this far-left politician, who may now be able to finish the job he had started of turning Brazil into another Cuba or Venezuela, was entirely fair and transparent. As reported, the U.S. government has now even started to deport opposition leaders back to Brazil and the Lula Gulags.[45]

To conclude, there is no reason whatsoever to seriously believe that the last presidential election in Brazil was anything close to being fair and transparent. To the contrary, there is every reason to believe that such elections were not legitimate and that now Brazilians are facing the oligarchical control of a brutal socialist government backed by the global oligarchy. It is time to denounce the installation of such a dictatorial regime in the country. It is time for the world to know the truth and to demand the immediate restoration of democracy and human rights in Brazil.  

Augusto Zimmermann PhD (Monash), LLM summa cum laude, LLB (Hon.), CIArb is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education. He is also a former Associate Law Dean (Research) at Murdoch University and a former Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia.


[1] See: https://revistaoeste.com/politica/veja-imagens-aereas-da-avenida-paulista-no-ato-a-favor-da-democracia/

[2] See: https://twitter.com/noticiastavares/status/1761759772909371831?s=48

[3] ‘Professor Dr. Ives Gandra da Silva Martins e o STF’, YouTube, 23 October 2023, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3HCrnut2MY

[4] ‘Ministro dos Direitos Humanos diz que “manifestantes golpistas” não merecem direitos humanos’, Investor Brazil, 11 January 2023, at https://investorbr.com/ministro-dos-direitos-humanos-diz-que-manifestantes-golpistas-nao-merecem-direitos-humanos-mas-se-preocupa-com-todos-outros-presidiarios-do-pais/

[5] ‘Manifestantes presos são vacinados contra a covid-19’, Terra Brasil Noticias, 12 January 2022, at  https://terrabrasilnoticias.com/2023/01/manifestantes-presos-sao-vacinados-contra-a-covid-19/

[6] ‘Manifestantes presos são vacinados contra a covid-19’, Revista Oeste, 12 January 2022, at https://revistaoeste.com/brasil/manifestantes-presos-sao-vacinados-contra-a-covid-19/

[7] ‘Ministro dos Direitos Humanos diz que “manifestantes golpistas” não merecem direitos humanos’, 7 Minutos, 11 January 2023, at https://7minutos.com.br/noticias/politica/ultimasdepolitica/ministro-dos-direitos-humanos-diz-que-manifestantes-golpistas/

[8] ‘Electoral high court president says those who doubt election results in Brazil will be treated as criminals’, The Rio Times, 5 November 2022, at https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/brazil/electoral-high-court-president-says-those-who-doubt-election-results-in-brazil-will-be-treated-as-criminals/

[9] Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, ‘To Defend Democracy, Is Brazil’s Top Court Going Too Far?’, The New York Times, September 26, 2022, at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/26/world/americas/bolsonaro-brazil-supreme-court.html

[10] Cristyan Costa, ‘Lula homenageia Moraes no dia do velório de Clezão’, Revista Oeste, 21 November 2023, at https://revistaoeste.com/politica/lula-homenageia-moraes-no-dia-do-velorio-de-clezao/

[11] Iolanda Fonseca, ‘Amid allegations of a stolen election, Brazilians have been protesting in the millions in over 300 locations nationwide’, The Rio Times, 7 November 2022, at https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/modern-day-censorship/opinion-amid-allegations-of-a-stolen-election-brazilians-have-been-protesting-in-the-millions-in-over-300-locations-nationwide/

[12] John Otis, ‘Government Corruption at New Heights in Brazil’, Houston Chronicle, 16 October 2005, at http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/headline/world/3399089

[13] ‘Brazilian centrist Alckmin, Lula’s big-tent for VP’, France 24, 1 November 2022, at https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20221101-brazilian-centrist-alckmin-lula-s-big-tent-bet-for-vp

[14] J.R. Guzzo, ‘Fachin agiu como um militante político empenhado em servir a Lula e ao PT’, Jovem Pan, 13 March 2021, at https://jovempan.com.br/opiniao-jovem-

[15] Igor Carvalho, ‘Understand the decision that annuls Lula’s sentences and the Brazilian political game’, Brasil De Fato, 9 March 2022, at https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2021/03/09/understand-the-decision-that-annuls-lula-s-sentences-and-the-brazilian-political-game

[16] ‘Brésil : « Lula » favori’, Le Monde, October 2, 2002, at https://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article/2002/10/02/bresil-lula-favori_4255401_1819218.html

[17] ‘El País se Movió Hacia La Izquierda – Lo Dijo el Probable Canciller del PT’, La Nación, October 5, 2002, p 2.

[18] Iolanda Fonseca, ‘Amid allegations of a stolen election, Brazilians have been protesting in the millions in over 300 locations nationwide’, The Rio Times, 7 November 2022, at https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/modern-day-censorship/opinion-amid-allegations-of-a-stolen-election-brazilians-have-been-protesting-in-the-millions-in-over-300-locations-nationwide/

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Jack Dutton, ‘Brazil’s Bolsonaro Rallies See Country Heading for Its Own January 6’, Newsweek, 8 September 2021, at https://www.newsweek.com/brazils-bolsonaro-rallies-see-country-heading-its-own-january-6-1626989

[23] Gustavo Maia, ‘Barroso participa de evento nos EUA sobre com se livrar de um presidente’, Revista Veja, 18 February 2022, at  https://veja.abril.com.br/coluna/radar/barroso-participa-de-evento-nos-eua-sobre-como-se-livrar-de-um-presidente/.

[24] Jorge Serrão, ‘Desmentido de Barroso sobre ‘Eleição não se vence, se toma’ não alivia seus erros’, Jovem Pan, 12 August 2022, at https://jovempan.com.br/opiniao-jovem-pan/comentaristas/jorge-serrao/desmentido-de-barroso-sobre-eleicao-nao-se-vence-se-toma-nao-alivia-seus-erros.html

[25] Licio Antonio Malheiros, ‘Opinião: “Eleição não se vence, eleição se toma”’, O Documento, 26 October 2022, at https://odocumento.com.br/licio-malheiros-eleicao-nao-se-vence-eleicao-se-toma/

[26] Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, ‘To Defend Democracy, Is Brazil’s Top Court Going Too Far?’, The New York Times, September 26, 2022, at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/26/world/americas/bolsonaro-brazil-supreme-court.html

[27] Simone Preissler Iglesias and Andrew Rosati, ‘Jair Bolsonaro wages Trump-like campaign to sow doubt over voting in Brazil’, The Japan Times, 13 July 2021, at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/07/13/world/brazil-voting-bolsonaro/

[28] ‘Brazil: Telegram messaging app blocked by top court’, DW (Deutche Welle), 19 March 2022, at https://www.dw.com/en/brazil-telegram-messaging-app-blocked-by-top-court/a-61183805

[29] Ibid.

[30] Bryan Harris and Michael Pooler, ‘Brazil’s supreme court blocks messaging app Telegram’, Financial Times, 19 March 2022, at https://www.ft.com/content/ff094139-b411-4850-95f7-051e3676736f

[31] ‘Bolsonaro condemns raids over Brazil’, Macau News Agency, August 27, 2022, at https://www.macaubusiness.com/bolsonaro-condemns-raids-over-brazil-coup-plot/

[32] Robbie Gramer, ‘How Team Biden Tried to Coup-Proof Brazil’s Elections’, Foreign Policy, 28 October 2022, at https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/28/brazil-elections-bolsonaro-democracy-biden/

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35]  Tom Porter, ‘Western leaders rushed to recognise Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil to head off any Trump-like attempt to stay in power, experts say’, Business Insider, 31 October 2022, at https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/world/news/western-leaders-rushed-to-recognise-bolsonaros-defeat-in-brazil-to-head-off-any-trump-like-attempt-to-stay-in-power-experts-

[36] ‘U.S. Senate unanimously approves resolution in defense of democracy in Brazil’, WBO (Washington Brazil Office), September 28, 2022, at https://www.braziloffice.org/press-releases/us-senate-unanimously-approves-resolution-in-defense-of-democracy-in-brazil

[37] Ibid.

[38] Gamaliel Isaac, ‘Warnings to Brazil and their Implications’, https://getinsight.pro/schools/biden_bolsonaro.htm

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Tom Porter, ‘Western leaders rushed to recognise Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil to head off any Trump-like attempt to stay in power, experts say’, Business Insider, 31 October 2022, at https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/world/news/western-leaders-rushed-to-recognise-bolsonaros-defeat-in-brazil-to-head-off-any-trump-like-attempt-to-stay-in-power-experts-

[42] Nur Asena Erturk, ‘Macron voices support for Brazil’s Lula after protesters storm government buildings’, AA, 09 January 2023, at https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/macron-voices-support-for-brazil-s-lula-after-protesters-storm-government-buildings/2782981

[43] Tom Porter, ‘Western leaders rushed to recognise Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil to head off any Trump-like attempt to stay in power, experts say’, Business Insider, 31 October 2022, at https://www.businessinsider.in/politics/world/news/western-leaders-rushed-to-recognise-bolsonaros-defeat-in-brazil-to-head-off-any-trump-like-attempt-to-stay-in-power-experts-

[44] Ibid.

[45] Jim Hoft, ‘Joe Biden and the CIA Worked to Install Current Communist Regime in Brazil – This Was All Planned’, The Gateway Pundit, 15 January 2023, at https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2023/01/joe-biden-cia-worked-install-current-communist-dictatorship-brazil-deporting-brazilian-exiles-back-lula-regime/

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