Brazil protests: What is happening in Brazil and why did Bolsonaro supporters raid Congress? | World News

Brazil protests: Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday (January 8, 2023) stormed the country’s Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in the capital Brasilia, days after the inauguration of his rival Luiz Incio Lula da Silva. In what is said to be the “pro-Bolsonaro riots”, thousands of demonstrators reportedly bypassed security barricades, climbed on roofs, smashed windows, and invaded all three government buildings, which were believed to be largely vacant and sit on Brasilia’s vast Three Powers Square.

The Bolsonaro supporters — who have turned to the streets — have refused to accept his election defeat in the October 30 presidential vote. Some of them reportedly called for a military intervention to either restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power or oust leftist Lula from the presidency.

The uprising lasted a little over three hours and underlined the severe polarization that still grips Brazil days after the inauguration of Lula.

It is notable that Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting Lula’s electoral win since October 30, and have been blocking roads, setting vehicles on fire, and gathering outside military buildings, urging the armed forces to intervene. 

Brazil President Lula calls Bolsonaro supporters ‘fanatical fascists’ after they raid Congress

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called supporters of Bolsonaro, who invaded the country’s Congress, presidential palace, and Supreme Court, “fanatical fascists”.

He also blamed Bolsonaro for inflaming his supporters after a campaign of baseless allegations about potential election fraud following the end of his rule marked by divisive nationalist populism.

“These vandals, who we could call fanatical fascists, did what has never been done in the history of this country,” Lula said at a press conference.

“All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished,” he added.

ALSO READ | ‘Deeply concerned’, says PM Modi after ex-Brazil President Bolsonaro’s supporters invade govt buildings

“This genocidist … is encouraging this via social media from Miami,” Lula said, referring to Brazil’s far-right former President Bolsonaro. 

“Everybody knows there are various speeches of the ex-president encouraging this,” he added.

Lula announced a federal security intervention in Brasilia lasting until January 31 after capital security forces were initially overwhelmed by the invaders. 

‘Peaceful demonstrations part of democracy but…’: Bolsonaro reacts after his supporters invade Brazil’s Congress

Making his first reaction, Bolsonaro said that he “repudiates” Lula’s accusations against him.

He also said that peaceful demonstrations are part of democracy but invading and damaging public buildings “crosses the line.” 

Bolsonaro flew to Florida 48 hours before the end of his mandate and was absent from Lula’s inauguration on January 1.

The capital invaders left a trail of destruction in their wake, throwing furniture through the smashed windows of the presidential palace, flooding parts of Congress with a sprinkler system, and ransacking ceremonial rooms in the Supreme Court.

Brief timeline of key events leading up to invasion of Brazil’s Congress by Bolsonaro supporters:

October 30 

Lula, who was president from 2003 to 2011, narrowly defeated Jair Bolsonaro in a run-off vote. 

Bolsonaro supporters begin gathering for the first time outside military bases across Brazil, calling for a military intervention to prevent Lula from returning to the office.

October 31 

Truckers — who support Jair Bolsonaro — blocked roads throughout the country after his defeat.

November 2 

Jair Bolsonaro supporters hold rallies across the country, asking for an armed force intervention.

November 22 

Jair Bolsonaro challenges the results of the Brazilian election, arguing votes from some machines should be “invalidated” in a complaint that election authorities rebuffed.

December 12 

Lula’s election victory is certified by the federal electoral court. Later that day, after the arrest of a pro-Bolsonaro indigenous leader for alleged anti-democratic acts, Bolsonaro supporters try to invade the federal police headquarters in Brasilia.

December 29 

At least four people were arrested by Brazilian police for an alleged coup attempt during riots by Bolsonaro supporters.

December 30 

Jair Bolsonaro lands in Florida (United States) less than two days before Lula is set to take office.

January 1 

Lula is sworn in as president for the third time.

January 8 

Angry Bolsonaro supporters invade Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in Brasilia.

Brazil begins investigation into who led anti-democratic riots in Brasilia

Brazilian authorities have now begun investigating the worst attack on the country’s institutions since democracy was restored four decades ago, with the Supreme Court removing the governor of Brasilia from office for 90 days due to flaws in security in the capital.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes also ordered social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to block coup-mongering propaganda.

Police have now retaken the damaged public buildings after dispersing the crowd with tear gas and arresting around 400 demonstrators.

(With agency inputs)

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