March 28, 2023

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Supporters of the former Brazilian president stormed Congress and the Supreme Court


Hundreds of supporters of Brazil’s far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro broke through police barricades on Sunday and besieged Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the attack. Demonstrators, wearing green and yellow flags, a group of them climbed the Speaker’s chair and gathered around him. Planaldo climbed the ramp to the Presidential Palace, trampling the headquarters of the Supreme Court.

The incident brought back memories of the violence in America’s capital. President Luiz Inacio Lula visited an area hit by severe flooding in the southeastern city of Arraquara. He signed a decree declaring a federal intervention in Brasilia, giving his government special powers to restore law and order in the capital. ‚ÄúThese fascist fanatics have done something unprecedented in the history of this country.

The 77-year-old veteran leftist leader defeated Bolsonaro in the election. “We will find out who these criminals are and deal with them with full force of law,” he said. Hardline Bolsonaro supporters have called for military intervention outside military bases in Brazil to prevent Lula from taking power after Bolsonaro was defeated in the election.

A crowd of protesters climbed onto the roof of the Congress building on Sunday. In social media footage, rioters can be seen breaking doors and windows to enter the Congress building. The mob is then shown breaking in, vandalizing the MPs’ offices and using the Speaker’s dias as a slide on the floor of the Assembly. Video shows a crowd outside pulling a policeman off his horse and punching him to the ground.

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Police set up a security cordon around Triforce Square in Brasilia. They used tear gas to disperse the rioters from the iconic buildings of the National Congress, the Planaldo and the Supreme Court. Failing that, security forces used riot police on horseback and fired tear gas from helicopters to disperse protesters. But the scene of congestion continued late into the evening and all three buildings were still crowded.

An AFP photographer was assaulted and at least five journalists were assaulted, including one whose belongings were stolen by protesters, a journalists’ association said. Demonstrator Sara Lima told AFP she was demanding a review of the “fraudulent election”. Bolsonaro has accused Brazil’s courts and electoral officials of a conspiracy against him.

“After this fraudulent election, we have to restore order,” said Lima, a 27-year-old production engineer wearing the yellow jersey of Brazil’s national soccer team. “I am here for history, for my daughters,” tweeted Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco, adding, “I strongly reject this anti-democratic act, which must be punished with the full force of the law.”

The US said it condemned any attempt to undermine democracy in Brazil, while national security adviser Jack Sullivan said President Joe Biden was “monitoring the situation closely”. The tweet by the President of the European Council, Charles Michael, is also reprehensible. French President Emmanuel Macron called for respect for Brazilian institutions and sent Lula “France’s unwavering support”.

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