Rightists Riot In Brazil: Lula Orders Federal Intervention Against Rioters


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has declared a state of emergency in the Federal District of Brasilia after thousands of supporters of his right-wing predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, organized a riot and overran the Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential Planalto Palace.

The leftist leader, inaugurated last week, gave the order on Sunday, has appointed justice minister Ricardo Garcia Capelli to lead the federal intervention.

Lula’s order gives Capelli the power to ask both civil and military bodies for “the necessary means to achieve the object of the intervention.”

After hours of clashes, riot police using tear-gas and water cannons managed to regain control of the government buildings by Sunday evening. Authorities announced that at least 300 people were detained, as the Justice Minister warned that the arrests would continue throughout the night, as authorities are trying to identify everyone involved in what he dubbed an act of “terrorism” and an attempted “coup.”

However, the emergency order remains in effect until the end of the month. The scope of the order is limited to Brasilia’s Federal District, and its stated aim is to “end the serious compromising of public order in the State in the Federal District, marked by violence and invasion of public buildings.”

To achieve that goal, Capelli may call upon “the financial, technological, structural, and human resources of the Federal District” – including, but not limited to, the military and police – as needed.

Promising to make those responsible for the chaos “pay with the force of the law” in a televised address, Lula pledged to get to the bottom of “who are the financiers” of the swarm of protesters – most outfitted in matching attire with the colors of the Brazilian flag – who rushed through a barricade and into the government buildings.

He denounced the demonstrators as “vandals and fascists,” blaming Bolsonaro for filling their heads with extremism. The former leader’s supporters have been staging chaotic demonstrations since he lost a close election to his leftist rival in October, blocking roads, setting vehicles on fire, and at one point even surrounding a military facility to try to convince the soldiers inside to rise up and restore Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro left Brazil several days before the traditional handoff ceremony installing Lula in the presidency rather than appear to legitimize the leftist’s win by showing up, maintaining that his defeat had been unfair even as he condemned the violent protests that had resulted. Lula blamed what he described as the day’s “unprecedented” violence on his nemesis, declaring “this is also the responsibilities of him and of the parties that belong to him.”

Another report said:

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes removed the governor of the Federal District of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha, from his post for 90 days on Sunday after right-wing supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in the capital.

Riots on such a scale, which saw thousands of demonstrators overrunning Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential Planalto Palace on Sunday, “could only occur with the approval and even effective participation of the competent authorities,” the judge said, explaining his decision.

The fact that major protests by supporters of Bolsonaro, who were unhappy about his defeat in the November election to leftist opponent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, were being prepared was well-known and widely reported in the media, he pointed out.

Earlier reports said:

Supporters of right-wing former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro have swarmed the country’s Three Powers Plaza, climbing the roof of the National Congress and ransacking multiple government buildings, following weeks of unrest and claims of election fraud.

Chaotic scenes erupted in the capital Brasilia Video on Sunday, with videos posted to social media showing the rioters also attacking the Supreme Court building as well. Water can be seen pouring out of a broken window and makeshift lettering pasted on another window as demonstrators, many clutching or wearing Brazilian flags, survey the damage. The court had slapped Bolsonaro with a hefty fine in November over his efforts to challenge the results of the presidential race, accusing him of acting in bad faith.

The protesters also broke into the Planalto Palace, the official workplace of the president of Brazil, according to other footage. While local media reports placed the crowd size at around 3,000 people, reports by police in the Federal District of Brasilia cited on social media suggested they were concerned they might be outnumbered by the demonstrators.

Lula da Silva was on official trip in Sao Paulo during the attack.

Bolsonaro made a point of avoiding the ceremonial transition of power to his left-wing rival, opting to fly to Florida ahead of the date. The former leader left behind a tearful farewell message to supporters in which he reiterated that his electoral defeat had been unfair, while condemning the violent protests that followed.

Since Lula’s narrow electoral victory in October, supporters of the former president have blocked roads, set vehicles on fire, and even surrounded military buildings, in an effort to try to convince soldiers inside to overthrow the new government.

Many observers pointed out similarities between the events in the Federal District and the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. In both cases, supporters of a right-wing leader ousted in a hotly-contested election swarmed government buildings that had been left largely unguarded, meeting with little if any resistance from authorities. Like their American counterparts, the Bolsonaro supporters came outfitted with their nation’s flags and messaging for the crowd – “We want the source code,” – one banner dropped from the roof of the Congress read, presumably referring to the voting machines whose integrity Bolsonaro had questioned.

Bolsonaro’s Response

Jair Bolsonaro has denied any responsibility for the unrest that unfolded in the capital Brasilia on Sunday, after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accused his right-wing predecessor of filling the heads of his supporters with extremism.

“Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule,” Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday evening, after authorities regained control of the government buildings seized by rioters earlier in the day.

“I repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current head of the executive of Brazil,” Bolsonaro added, without mentioning Lula by name. The former leader left Brazil several days before the traditional swearing-in ceremony on January 1 rather than appear to legitimize the leftist’s win by showing up.

“This genocidist is encouraging this via social media from Miami,” Lula claimed in a televised address earlier on Sunday, blaming what he described as the day’s “unprecedented” violence on his nemesis.

On Sunday, a massive crowd of Bolsonaro’s supporters marched through the capital in yet another protest, reiterating claims that Brazil’s electronic voting system was open to fraud and other allegations of voting irregularities. After reaching the Three Powers Plaza, where all three branches of the government are located, swarms of protesters rushed through barricades and overran the Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential Planalto Palace.

As the crowds wreaked havoc inside, authorities struggled to contain the unrest.

By Sunday evening, after hours of clashes and hundreds of arrests, riot police managed to regain control of the government buildings using tear-gas and water cannons.


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