Right-wing protestors display a sign reading “intervention”at the Natioanl Congress Building, in Brasilia, Brazil.
2024 Photo Contest, North and Central America, Honorable Mention



Gabriela Biló

for Folha de São Paulo
08 January, 2023

Right-wing protestors display a sign reading “intervention”at the Natioanl Congress Building, in Brasilia, Brazil.

On 30 October 2022, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won Brazil's presidential election by a narrow margin, leading to intense opposition from supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s backers took to the streets nationwide, staging protests, blockading roads, and calling for military intervention to undo Lula's electoral triumph. In the days after the election, public allegations and recriminations increased political polarization throughout the country.

The tension escalated dramatically on 8 January 2023, when thousands of extreme-right demonstrators, in support of Bolsonaro, mobilized against key democratic institutions in the capital Brasilia. Three Powers Plaza, the central square between The Presidential Palace, the National Congress, and the Supreme Court, was the principal target of this coordinated assault.

In the chaos that ensued, journalists covering the event were directly targeted by the rampaging demonstrators. Many journalists faced verbal and physical assaults; some journalists were injured, ordered to delete their photos, or had their equipment stolen in a calculated effort to suppress documentation of the events. These forms of intimidation against journalists and journalistic freedom underscores the critical role of the press in upholding democracy. The targeted attacks are a testament to the challenges faced by those committed to truth-seeking amid turbulent political climates around the world. 

This project aims to shed light on the events of 8 January 2023 in the broader context of Brazil's political dynamics. By documenting the assault on democratic institutions and the targeting of journalists, the project highlights the importance of defending democratic values and press freedom in Brazil and beyond.

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Gabriela Biló
About the photographer

Gabriela Biló is a photographer based in Brasília, Brazil. She majored in journalism at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC), in São Paulo, and has since worked for news outlets in Brazil, such as O Estado de São Paulo and Folha de São Paulo, where she covers the Federal Government and the President on a daily basi...

Read the full biography
Technical information

Canon EOS-1D X

Jury comment

The jury honors this photographer for her portrayal of a pivotal news event amidst challenging conditions. The blend of news-worthy photographs and artistic composition sets her work apart as one of the most compelling sequences of this story in Brazil.