Brazil: What we know about the looting of power by Bolsonaro’s supporters

Brazilian police on Sunday used tear gas to repel hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-President Jair Bolsonaro who managed to enter Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brazil. wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After several hours of chaos, security forces regained control of buildings occupied by hundreds of anti-Lula demonstrators and arrested more than 200 people.

What’s going on ?

The congress was cordoned off by the authorities, but the Bolsonarians, who did not accept Lula’s election, managed to break through the security cordons and several dozen of them were able to climb the ramp of the building with modern architecture to occupy the roof of the building. . According to images spread on social networks, the invasion caused a large amount of damage.

These moving images, reminiscent of the attack on the US Capitol, show a real stream of people flowing towards Congress. According to the videos, Bolsonaro’s supporters then broke windows to enter the parliament and also inside the Planalto presidential palace.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the demonstrators “fascist vandals” a few hours later and ordered a “federal intervention” of police to take control of the security of the capital. “We will find them all and they will all be punished,” Lula said of the Bolsonarians responsible for robbing Lula, who was sworn in as president just a week ago.

What is the extent of the damage?

Congress combines the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate in the same building. Also nearby is the Federal Supreme Court, the highest instance of the Brazilian judicial system. In videos circulating on social networks, demonstrators are seen destroying buildings.

The police, who seemed completely overwhelmed, tried in vain to push them away. It can be observed that they were forced to retreat from their horses by the demonstrators and get out from among the demonstrators. The damage to these buildings, which are a wealth of modern architecture and full of works of art, is quite visible. Demonstrators attack furniture, as well as the walls and ceiling of the Federal High Court.

Deputy André Janones called these protesters “terrorists” and accused them on Twitter of stealing “computers, tables, chairs and even doors”.

“In Brazil, strikers who promote the destruction of public property are identified and will be punished. Tomorrow we will continue our work at Planalto Palace. Democracy always celebrated in a tweet from the leftist head of state, who inspected looted buildings on his way back to Brazil late Sunday night.

A photojournalist from the editorial staff of “Metropoles” newspaper says that he was violently attacked by the demonstrators. He found himself surrounded by dozens of people. “They gathered around me shouting and cursing. I tried to get out, but while I was kicking, they punched me in the stomach and took my equipment,” he explained to the media site.

200 people were arrested

Faced with the scale of Bolsonarian mobilization, the government announced the deployment of forces. “This absurd attempt to impose will will not prevail. The government of the Federal District (Brazil) will send additional forces and the forces we have are operating,” Justice and Public Security Minister Flavio Dino said on Twitter. According to him, more than 200 people were arrested.

On Saturday, Flavio Dino authorized the deployment of agents of the National Force, a special police force that is sometimes sent to different states in case of a threat to law and order. Lula, 77, was not in Brazil on Sunday: he traveled to Araraquara, in the state (southeast) of Sao Paulo, which was devastated by floods at the end of the year.

The police and security of the Federal Supreme Court eventually regained control of the building and initiated the evacuation of the Brazilian Congress. Footage from CNN Brazil shows yellow and green-clad Bolsonarians descending in single file, hands behind their backs, down the Planalto presidential palace surrounded by police.

What is the motivation of Bolsonaro supporters?

Since Lula’s election against Bolsonaro at the end of October, supporters of the former president have been holding demonstrations denouncing the rigged elections. They demanded the intervention of the military to prevent Lula from returning to power for a third term after 2003-2010. “We have to restore order after this fraudulent election,” said AFP journalist Sara Lima on the ground. A 27-year-old pro-Bolsonaro engineer from Goianesia, 300 km from Brazil.

After the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro, his supporters blocked roads in at least 11 states of the country. They burned tires in the middle of the road to stop the traffic and gradually destroyed the parked cars by the police. Bolsonaro himself called for road closures, but said he supported “legitimate demonstrations”. He called on his supporters to join the demonstrators gathered in front of the military buildings.

Jair Bolsonaro left Brazil before the end of his mandate to join the United States. He never congratulated Lula on her election and avoided her investment.

In a series of tweets, he unequivocally condemned the “destruction and occupation of public buildings.” But he “rejected without evidence” his successor’s accusations that he encouraged violence.

Several of his allies distanced themselves from the violence on Sunday, including Valdemar Costa Neto, president of Bolsonaro’s party PL, who lamented “a sad day for the Brazilian people”.

The governor of the Federal District of Brazil, another ally of Jair Bolsonaro, Ibaneis Rocha, apologized to President Lula in a video. He called those responsible for the destruction of public buildings “real vandals” and “real terrorists”.

“We were following all these actions together with (Justice Minister) Flavio Dino (…) We never thought that these demonstrations would be of such proportions,” he said.

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