Hybrid warfare in Brazil: The highest stage of the military insurgency

Piero C. Leirner


Since 2013, Brazil has undergone various moments of political turbulence, ultimately culminating in the seizure of power by the Far Right. The lack of clarity on how this movement has been led and the role played by the military in the political arena allows us to ask if Brazil has been the target of a form of hybrid warfare—similar to the kind experienced by various other countries that have undergone sudden changes in regime (such as Ukraine and Egypt, and more recently Honduras and Paraguay). This article explores the limits and implications of applying the notion of hybrid warfare to the Brazilian case, seeking to understand how politics came to be merged with elements adopted from military strategies and tactics. Based on my own ethnographic experience with military personnel, I aim to show how, with the assistance of other state powers, they produced a high-impact psychological operation that paved the way for the 2018 elections and the seizure of power by the Far Right. Following this line of analysis, I argue that in the Brazilian case, there has been a hybrid warfare as well as an insurgency of state corporations and their networks.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/708680