2016: Right-Wing Protesters Invade the Chamber of Deputies

November 16, 2016 was an ordinary Wednesday in the Câmara. Deputy Capitão Augusto was giving a speech extolling his efforts to gain permission for a cancer hospital in his city, Ourinhos, São Paulo, to begin treating patients through the national healthcare system. As he ended his speech, he was interrupted.

What do we learn from this source about the interruption? We learn, “The Chamber is invaded by demonstrators,” followed by, “Tumult in the Chamber.” Who the demonstrators are or what they want is left to the reader’s imagination. Why? Because the Câmara is governed by its own internal rules that are very clear about what can be spoken, by whom, and when. Demonstrations, fights, or interruptions given out of turn are thus not dignified inclusion in the written record. They are written out of history.

What does the audio reveal that the written record does not? Listen and find out.

Here we hear a crashing sound in the background as Capitão Augusto speaks, followed by shouts, thumps, and attempts by the acting president to quiet the demonstrators. We then hear chants of “Viva Sérgio Moro,” praising the judge at the center of the ongoing Lavo Jato corruption investigation. The president announces that the session is suspended, but no one pays him any mind. The demonstrators begin singing the national anthem. Three minutes after the demonstration begins, the microphones are shut off, and the recording ends.

When we turn to the video footage, we get a somewhat fuller picture.

This time we see that the demonstrators were not deputies, nor were they watching from the gallery above. Rather, they are ordinary citizens who storm into the chamber, rushing down the aisle and getting into a fistfight with a security guard who tries to stop them. They shout and chant, pumping their fists in the air. After the audio cuts off, the video continues for another minute or so.

Each of these pieces of evidence tells us a little more about what happened. What none of them can tell (but something that press reports do reveal) is that the demonstrators were far-right activists demanding a military coup to overthrow the country’s corrupt politicians. The crashing sound that we heard at the beginning of the “tumult” was the demonstrators breaking down the glass door into the chamber.