By: Rahul Adhikari
January 10 2023
A video from Brazil's Independence Day 2022 celebrations has been shared to falsely claim that it shows protests against the alleged electoral fraud.
Demanding Army intervention against the presidential election results, thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the official buildings for the Brazilian Congress, Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in the capital city of Brasilia on the afternoon of January 8, 2023. A day after the attack, a 14-second video showing a gathering of thousands of people was shared with the claim that it showed "10 million protesting election fraud" back in September-November 2022. The user alleged that the "media never showed you this." Similar videos of the gathering were posted earlier with the claim that it showed "recent" "massive protests" in Brazil over election results.
It is important to mention that the January 8 attack was a culmination of months of tension since the elections were concluded in late October 2022. Only a week before the attack, leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, more commonly known as Lula, was sworn into office for the third time. The 77-year-old leader had defeated right-wing politician Bolsonaro, who, in his election campaign, had repeatedly claimed that the Left was going to "steal" the elections.
Logically found that the viral 14-second clip was shared on Twitter by a user named Marco Angeli on September 15, 2022. The date September 7 and the location Brasilia can be seen written on the top-left corner of the video. According to a translation of the post description, originally in Portuguese, the video was shot in Brasilia on September 7. There was no mention of "protest" or "election fraud" in the post description or the text embedded in the video.
Further reverse image searches took us to the same video shared by right-wing activist and politician Carla Zambelli on September 12. In the accompanying post, Zambelli stated that the video is from September 7. In the post, originally written in Portuguese, she said that the Superior Electoral Court had prohibited Bolsonaro from using these visuals for his election advertisement. This indicates that the visuals possibly emanated from an event held on September 7 with then-president Bolsanaro at the helm.
According to several media reports, on September 7, 2022 Bolsanaro led Independence Day rallies in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro as the country marked 200 years of freedom. Reuters reported that thousands of Bolsonaro supporters attended the rallies ahead of the 2022 elections. At the Brasilia event, Bolsonaro had presided over a military parade and delivered a defiant speech to his supporters.
On September 8, 2022, Brazilian news organization Poder360 also shared a video of Bolsonaro's Independence Day rally in Brasilia on YouTube. The Poder 360 video also shows a gathering of huge crowds waving yellow-green flags. Similar to the visuals in the viral 14-second clip, the same buildings and tree groves surround the location of the rally shown in the video report. The huge Brazilian flag seen at the beginning of the viral video can also be spotted in the Poder360 report. This makes it evidently apparent that the visuals of the crowd in the viral post are actually from the huge gathering witnessed during the Independence Day celebrations in Brasilia on September 7.
The presidential election in Brazil took place on October 2, and October 30 in two rounds, and Lula was declared the winner after the second round. While we couldn't independently verify the source of the viral video, the clip was available on the internet well before the election results were declared and while poll campaigning was underway. This proves that the video is unrelated to the protests against alleged election fraud. After Bolsonaro's defeat in the closely-contested polls, several of the former president's supporters had alleged election fraud and held protests in the country. Older, unrelated videos claiming to show the protests went viral on social media after the poll results. Logically had also fact-checked a photo from the Independence Day celebrations at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach shared with the false claim that it showed a protest against the "election fraud."
In a report released in November, the Brazilian military had confirmed that it found no fraud or inconsistency in the presidential elections. The Brazilian electoral court also certified the election, and no concerns have been raised by any independent observers. Bolsanaro's petition challenging the poll results was dismissed by the electoral court on November 23. He later agreed to cooperate in a peaceful handover of power but left Brazil for the U.S. before Lula’s swearing-in ceremony breaking custom.
A video of Independence Day celebrations shot before the result of the 2022 Brazil presidential election was announced has been wrongly shared as footage from protests in Brasilia against alleged election fraud. While it is true Bolsanaro supporters have held numerous agitations against the poll results and even breached the Brazilian Congress, the viral video in question is unrelated to the protests. Therefore, we mark this claim false.