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Provocateurs reported at Brazil protests

'Have you ever heard of the Trojan Horse?'

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Yudi Sherman

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Yudi Sherman

Writer and Reporter

Shining a spotlight on media and government disinformation.

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January 16, 2023

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06:33 AM

Provocateurs reported at Brazil protests

Newly inaugurated Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has vowed to punish the thousands of protesters who broke into the presidential office, the Supreme Court and Congress Sunday. 

Millions of Brazilians have spent months protesting the presidential election, declared in October for Lula, a Left-wing former president who was imprisoned for corruption. Many insist the election was fraudulent and continue to demand that Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro retain his seat.  

For over two months, demonstrations have plagued Brazil’s cities and streets after voting machine audits found significant voting regularities which may have helped Lula cross the finish line with 50.7% of the vote, the narrowest margin in Brazil’s history. Some areas also reported zero votes going to Bolsonaro. 

Over 1,150 Brazilian citizens have been arrested in relation to Sunday’s protest and Lula’s administration has begun investigating Bolsonaro’s allies in Congress, reports Reuters. 

But reports have surfaced pointing to the apparent involvement of provocateurs among the demonstrators, raising questions about the drivers behind the protest. 

According to the New York Times, many of the protesters Sunday reported that the breaches of the federal buildings themselves and the vandalism they involved were the work of infiltrators. 

“Have you ever heard of the Trojan Horse?” one protester, Nathanael S. Viera, 51, told the Times. “The infiltrators went in and set everything up, and the damn press showed the Brazilian nation that we patriots are the hooligans.” 

“Donald Trump was taken out with a rigged election, no question about it, and at the time he was taken out, I said, ‘President Bolsonaro is going to be taken down,’” said Wanderlei Silva, 59. “The Democrats staged that and invaded the Capitol,” he added. “The same way they staged it here.” 

Unwittingly, the Old Grey Lady herself posed important questions about the demonstrations. 

Why an encampment demanding a military coup was allowed to expand for over 70 days was part of a larger set of questions that officials were grappling with on Monday, among them: 

Why were protests allowed to get so close to Brazil’s halls of power? And why had security forces been so outnumbered, allowing throngs of protesters to easily surge into official government buildings? 

But the questions don't stop there.

In one telling video, a man in a ski mask tries to walk inconspicuously among the protesters and can be seen nodding to a woman before other demonstrators take notice, tear off his mask and attack him, allegedly for trying to infiltrate the protest. Several police officers run onto the scene. 

Another video shows a crowd of protesters confront a man with a backpack and appear to grab off his person what look like three incendiary devices. 

“Look at the infiltrated communists wearing the Brazilian shirt, posing as patriots and look at the bombs they carried. The people even arrested him,” wrote the user who posted the video. 

In another video, demonstrators are seen hurrying to put out fires in police vehicles started by an unseen arsonist. 

Other footage shows one man in the sea of blue and yellow wearing the American and Israeli flags on his shirt as he smashes a window with a barricade.

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