Chaos Engulfs Brazil As Pro-Bolsonaro Rioters Storm Key Government Buildings

Chaos Engulfs Brazil As Pro-Bolsonaro Rioters Storm Key Government Buildings
Scenes from Brasilia, where supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the top government buildings, leading to rioting | Image source: Buenos Aires Times

Hundreds of far right wing people and supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed key government buildings such as the presidential palace, the Supreme Court, and the parliament, on Sunday.

Video footage shows that a sea of rioters wearing yellow t-shirts and holding Brazilian flags surrounded the National Congress building, breaking the windows and doors while trying to invade the parliament house. Brazil’s newly elected President Lula has condemned the incident and called it a “fascist” attack.

A mob can also be seen creating ruckus in the offices of lawmakers inside the Congress. According to the news agency AFP, rioters used the speaker’s dais on the floor of the legislature as a slide and shouted insulting remarks for lawmakers in the empty House. The scene at the Brazilian Congress, which was much similar to that of the US Capitol Hill attack on January 6, 2021, carried out by former president Donald Trump’s supporters, has shocked the nation and invited condemnation from around the world.  

The police said that more than 200 people have been arrested and dozens of vehicles used in transporting the mobs to the capital Brasilia from other parts of the country were seized on Sunday.

The incident took place a week after Lula was sworn into office after defeating right wing populist leader Jair Bolsonaro, who rejected his October defeat alleging a conspiracy against him by election authorities and the country’s top court.

Soon after the attack, the newly elected Brazilian government also condemned the incident and said that rioters broke into the National Congress under a hail of tear gas bombs thrown by Military Police officers.

The statement further added that a group of radicals reached the fourth floor of the Planalto Palace, the presidential house, and attacked the bastion of the Executive Power. Following the incident, the apex court of the country removed the Governor of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha, from his post for 90 days, accusing him of failing to prevent the riot and of being “painfully silent” in the face of the attack.

However, Bolsonaro, who did not take part in inaugural ceremonies last week, has condemned the attack on government buildings and rejected his role in Sunday’s riots.

“Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy,” he said, before going on to condemn the “invasions of public buildings as occurred today”. The former Brazilian president tweeted at least six hours after the clash between his supporters and the police.

Amid the wide criticism around the world, Bolsonaro, who left for the US last week and is believed to be in Florida, said that he respects the Constitution, rule of laws, and the sacred freedom of the country.

Bolsonaro’s supporters have been protesting across the country and camping out at the military offices, urging the army to seize power and stop Lula from taking oath as the new president of Brazil.

The 77-year-old Lula became the president for the third time after defeating Bolsonaro by a narrow margin, receiving 50.9 percent of the vote share against the 49.1 percent by his rival candidate, in October.

Lula Hits Out At Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Lula wasted no time in blaming Bolsonaro for the attack. Denouncing the vile act of hooliganism, Lula has vowed that those who were involved in the violence will be found and punished.

“These people will have to be punished. We are going to find out who is financing those violent vandals who went to Brasilia. We will find out all about them, and they will pay under the force of law for this irresponsible action,” said Lula in his statement.

“They took advantage of the silence on Sunday, when we are still setting up the government, to do what they did. And you know that there are several speeches by the former president encouraging this. And this is also his responsibility and the parties that supported him,” he tweeted.

World Leaders Offer Support To Lula

Meanwhile, leaders around the world have condemned Sunday’s attack on key Brazilian buildings and offered support to Lula.

US President Joe Biden termed the attack as an “assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil”. Expressing his support and intention to continue working with Lula, Biden tweeted, “Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also came out in support of Lula and said that the will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions must be respected.

“Deeply concerned about the news of rioting and vandalism against the State institutions in Brasilia. Democratic traditions must be respected by everyone. We extend our full support to the Brazilian authorities,” tweeted PM Narendra Modi.

“Appalled by the acts of violence and illegal occupation of Brasilia’s government quarter by violent extremists today. Full support to Lula and his government, to Congress and to the Federal Supreme Court. Brazilian democracy will prevail over violence and extremism,” said European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrel.

Brazil’s Incident Reminds Of US Capitol Attack

Sunday’s attack on key Brazilian offices was much like what had happened in the US when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building following Donald Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, on January 6, 2021.

During the incident, several people died, scores were injured, the Capitol was damaged, and the House and Senate counting of ballots was delayed for hours, but not deterred.

Following the incident, around 1000 people have been charged with federal crimes so far, while the Congressional panel has recommended that several Republican leaders were linked to the attack for inciting violence, including Trump.


Read more: Iran Issues Warning To France After Charlie Hebdo’s ‘Insulting’ Caricatures Of Ayatollah Khamenei

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