Brazil: 1,000 arrests after the unrest sown by pro-Bolsonaro

by Gabriel Araujo and Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA, January 9 (Reuters) –

About a thousand people were taken into custody following the invasion of Brazilian places of power on Sunday by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, who left for the United States, riots reminiscent of incidents in Washington in 2021 and caused worldwide outrage.

A week after his formal return to power following his victory over Jair Bolsonaro in the presidential election on October 30, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised that those responsible for the violence would be brought to justice.

The governor of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha, has been suspended from his duties by the Supreme Court for security breaches in the Brazilian capital, while an investigation has been opened to determine in particular who had financed the buses leaving from different cities of the country for transport pro-Bolsonaro to Brasilia.

Lula ordered an intervention by the federal security forces until January 31 in Brasilia where soldiers, backed by riot police, dismantled a camp of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro in front of the army headquarters on Monday.

Supporters of the former far-right leader had already been on the scene since the October presidential election, denouncing electoral fraud and asking the army to intervene.

The prospect of electoral fraud had been advanced without proof during the campaign by Jair Bolsonaro, who did not recognize his defeat in the October ballot.

Leaving for Florida two days before Lula’s inauguration ceremony, which he did not attend, the former president rejected accusations by his leftist successor that he incited the revolt.

The wife of Jair Bolsonaro announced on Monday that he had been hospitalized for intestinal discomfort following the knife attack he suffered during the 2018 election campaign.

Jair Bolsonaro, who is the target of several investigations by the Supreme Court, may have to leave the United States where he went thanks to a visa granted to leaders in office and where parliamentarians have spoken in favor of his expulsion.


Thousands of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro invaded for about three hours and ransacked the Supreme Court, the Congress building and the presidential palace in Brasilia.

These scenes of chaos, which recalled the attack on the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021 by supporters of former US President Donald Trump, political model of Jair Bolsonaro, marked an escalation of tensions seen in the country since the October election.

Messages condemning the incidents and supporting President Lula poured in from Latin America and around the world.

US President Joe Biden called the attack on Brazilian places of power “scandalous”, denounced as an “attack on democracy and a peaceful transition of power”.

The White House chief added that Brazil’s democratic institutions have the full support of the United States.

“Total support for President Lula da Silva, democratically elected by millions of Brazilians after fair and free elections,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter.

Emmanuel Macron also spoke via the social network. “The will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions must be respected! President Lula can count on France’s unfailing support,” said the French president.

In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed his full support for the Brazilian administration. “Fascism has decided to organize a coup” in Brazil, Colombian President Gustavo Petro wrote on Twitter, asking for an urgent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Chilean President Gabriel Boric denounced a “cowardly and vile attack on democracy”. His Argentinian counterpart Alberto Fernandez expressed his support for President Lula “in the face of this coup attempt.”

This invasion of the places of power represents an immediate challenge for Lula, who has promised to unite a country polarized by the nationalist populism of Jair Bolsonaro.

Analysts have said they fear the situation will cause more volatility in Brazil’s financial markets, which have fallen sharply in recent weeks amid questions about how Lula will reconcile vast spending promises with tight public finances. (Report Adriano Machado, Anthony Boadle, Lisandra Paraguassu, Ricardo Brito, Peter Frontini, Gabriel Araujo; French version Jean Terzian)

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