National Lawyers Guild Statement on the Attempted Coup in Brazil


The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns the attempted coup d’état in Brazil on Sunday, January 8th. Supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro, including election deniers and pro-fascist coup mongers, invaded the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court and Presidential building causing significant damage to the buildings and their contents including national artistic treasures. The coupists actions were an attempt to spur the support of the Brazilian military, which so far has not occurred.

In an echo of the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. election and the January 6th violence, the anti-democratic forces in Brazil have taken a page from the Trump playbook in claiming, without any proof, that the presidential election was fraudulent and that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is not Brazil’s legitimate president. However, President Lula ordered the national military and civil police to clear the buildings and arrest those present. So far, there have been over 1,200 arrests with more pending. President Lula has ordered an investigation into the sources of financing and why the Federal District’s police forces failed to act to prevent the attempted coup. There is substantial evidence the governor of the Federal District and his security minister were complicit in the coup actions of January 8th, so much so that President Lula has ordered the federal security forces to take control of the Federal District.

The National Lawyers Guild supports the condemnations of the attempted coup from the U.S. President Biden and many members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, but we remain very concerned about the continuing role of U.S. officials and members of Congress in promoting, fomenting, or sponsoring coup attempts not only in Brazil but throughout Latin America. Further, we condemn the silence from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on these events, further evidencing the undemocratic forces in control of the Republican Party. There is substantial evidence that allies of Trump have been advising Bolsonaro and his supporters on the course of action that resulted in the coup attempt.

Further, the National Lawyers Guild demands that the U.S. State Department cease to provide Bolsonaro and his family refuge in the United States and to deport him back to Brazil where he will face Brazilian justice for his actions in fomenting the coup attempt. The U.S. must cease to be a haven for every dictator or would-be dictator at the same time that it denies asylum to those fleeing political repression.

The National Lawyers Guild offers its solidarity and support for the democratic forces in Brazil in their struggle to prevent a fascist coup.

National Lawyers Guild International supports legal work around the world “to the end that human rights and the rights of ecosystems shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests.” As lawyers, law students, and legal activists, we seek to change U.S. foreign policy that threatens, rather than engages, or is based on a model of domination rather than respect. The Guild provides assistance and solidarity to movements in the United States and abroad that work for social justice in this increasingly interconnected world. The International Committee is engaged in solidarity with Brazilian attorneys on issues of human rights.

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