Geopolitics

Brazil’s Reputation Suffers Little in Latin America Following Brasilia Riots

But adults in democracies farther abroad were more likely to sour on the South American giant

Image of protesters aiming to defend democracy following when former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's supporters stormed government buildings in Brasilia
Members of social movements protest in defense of democracy in Porto Alegre on Jan. 9, a day after supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in Brasilia. (SILVIO AVILA/AFP via Getty Images)

Views of Brazil declined among the populaces of many of the world’s major democracies following the attacks in Brasilia on Jan. 8, but reactions in Latin America were significantly more mild.

How Global Views of Brazil Shifted Following Jan. 8 Incident

Share of adults in each country with favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil

Trend lines of countries' favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil following the Jan. 8 incident, showing Latin American countries' views were more mild.

Survey conducted in 2022 and 2023 among representative samples of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 7 percentage points. ”Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.
How Global Views of Brazil Shifted Following Jan. 8 Incident

Share of adults in each country with favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil

Trend lines of countries' favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil following the Jan. 8 incident, showing Latin American countries' views were more mild.

Survey conducted in 2022 and 2023 among representative samples of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 7 percentage points. ”Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.
How Global Views of Brazil Shifted Following Jan. 8 Incident

Share of adults in each country with favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil

Trend lines of countries' favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil following the Jan. 8 incident, showing favorable views declined by an average of 2 percentage points.

Survey conducted in 2022 and 2023 among representative samples of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 7 percentage points. ”Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.
How Global Views of Brazil Shifted Following Jan. 8 Incident

Share of adults in each country with favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil

Trend lines of countries' favorable and unfavorable views of Brazil following the Jan. 8 incident, showing favorable views declined by an average of 2 percentage points.

Survey conducted in 2022 and 2023 among representative samples of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 7 percentage points. ”Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.

How Latin America responded to the Brasilia riots

  • Among adults in 15 democracies across the world, favorable views of Brazil declined by an average of 2 percentage points following the attacks, while unfavorable views rose an average of 5 percentage points. 
  • The news had a less deleterious effect among Latin American countries, as favorable views of Brazil actually increased from 60% to 65% among Peruvians and from 43% to 45% among Chileans, and were unchanged in Argentina and Mexico. However, unfavorable views rose an average of 4 percentage points among Latin Americans in those countries.
  • The damage was worse in Europe, where more adults than not in France, Germany, Italy and Spain now have unfavorable views of Brazil, which also saw a 7-percentage-point rise in unfavorable views in the United Kingdom.
  • The country with the single largest decline in net favorability — the share of favorable views minus unfavorable views — was Japan, where adults are now nearly twice as likely to have a negative than favorable view of Brazil.

Comparing the global reaction of Jan. 8 and Jan. 6 attacks

The ransacking of Brazil’s democratic institutions by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro dominated global headlines that day, but its potential impact on perceptions of Brazil vary broadly by country. 

In Latin America, the most disheartened population are Brazilians themselves. In four of the other Latin American nations surveyed — Peru, Chile, Mexico and Argentina —favorability either rose or stood steady.

All four countries have — or in Peru’s case, had — populist left-wing governments with varying degrees of ideological sympathy for Lula and his swift response to the riots. Investigations into Bolsonaro, the dismissal of Bolsonaro-aligned governors and military officials, the detention of more than 1,500 rioters and Lula’s vows  to punish “neo-fascists” may have gone over better — and received more media attention — in Latin America.

People farther abroad seem to have been left more perturbed by yet another assault on democracy than reassured by the government’s reaction. Declines in net favorability toward the United States following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack were similar to the declines toward Brazil in France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan. However, the United States saw greater declines in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia.