A week after the inauguration of leftist President Lula for a third term as head of Brazil, several thousand supporters of the former head of state, Jair Bolsonaro, gathered in the capital Brasilia to demonstrate their opposition and underline their refusal to accept the results of the presidential election.
The chants of protest and prayers out loud were quickly followed by the throwing of projectiles, stones and Molotov cocktails, by the police assembled to protect the ramp to the Planalto Palace, where Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received the scarf as president, but also the site of the three powers where Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court rub shoulders.
Entry into force
Despite the presence of mounted police and agents from the National Force, a special police force sometimes sent to the various states in the event of a threat to law and order, more than 3,000 people managed to back up and bypass the security cordon .
A veritable human wave of violent radical protesters dressed in yellow and green – the colors of the national flag – then stormed the buildings after smashing doors and windows to go and ransack the main seats of power in the country.
“Military intervention! » shouted the Bolsonarians.
“We patriots were robbed at the ballot box by Lula,” some say and ask “the armed forces take power and clean up Congress, do a general cleanup”.
To disperse the crowd, stun grenades were thrown by the police from a helicopter at the protesters occupying the roof of the Congress.
On social networks, videos quickly circulated showing parliamentarians’ offices upside down or protesters standing on the seats of the semi-cycle in the Senate.
One sat in the Speaker’s chair in the upper house, a striking imitation of pro-Trump protesters in the US Congress two years ago.
The damage seems significant in these buildings, which are known to be treasures of modern architecture and to be full of works of art.
According to the chain CNN Brazilin particular, protesters set fire to the carpet in a congressional lounge, which had to be flooded to put out the fire.
Bolsonarians have already demonstrated in front of military barracks since the narrow defeat of the outgoing far-right president against Lula on October 30.
They demanded the intervention of the army to prevent the latter from returning to power for a third term, after those from 2003 to 2010. Some of them also blocked roads for more than a week after the election.
Jair Bolsonaro, who never congratulated Lula on the victory and avoided his inauguration, left Brazil two days before the end of his term and is in Florida, USA.
Lula decrees a “federal intervention”
Minutes after the eruptions began, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the invasion with “ fascist vandals » and decreed a “federal intervention” on law enforcement to regain control of the capital’s security.
“We will find them all and they will all be punished”said of the Bolsonarians responsible for looting Lula, who was sworn in as president only a week ago, from Araraquara in the state of Sao Paulo (southeast).
“Democracy guarantees freedom of expression, but it also requires that institutions be respected”he added.
“What did these vandals, these fanatical fascists […] is unprecedented in our country’s history. Those who funded (these protests) will pay for these irresponsible and undemocratic actions”insisted the head of state.
L’“federal intervention” decreed by Lula consisted of assuming command of the security forces at the level of the Brazilian state, normally under the responsibility of local authorities.
This decree places all of Brasilia’s law enforcement agencies under the control of a person appointed by Lula, Ricardo Garcia Capelli, who reports directly to the president and can hire “any agency, civil or military”for the maintenance of order.
Beliefs around the world
“The United States condemns any attempt to undermine democracy in Brazil. President Biden is following the situation closely, and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering.”, White House Counsel Jake Sullivan tweeted. Traveling to Texas before going to Mexico, assessed US President Joe Biden “scandal” Bolsonarian violence in Brazil.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lepez Obrador expressed his support for Lula. “Reprehensible and undemocratic, the conservative coup attempt in Brazil”wrote the Mexican president on Twitter. “Lula is not alone, he has the support of progressive forces in his country, in Mexico, in America and around the world”he added.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez insisted, also on Twitter “his unconditional support and the support of the Argentine people for @LulaOficial in light of this coup attempt”.
“The Brazilian government has our full support in this cowardly and disgusting attack on democracy”commented on Twitter Chilean President Gabriel Boric, whose government has requested the convening of a special session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, expressed his opinion on Twitter “absolute condemnation” of this assault and its “full support for President Lula da Silva”.
This was said by the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola “deeply concerned”. “Democracy must always be respected”she tweeted in Portuguese.
“The will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions must be respected! President Lula can count on the unwavering support of France.”tweeted Emmanuel Macron, in French and Portuguese.
The police bring calm
The police were quick to restore calm. At the beginning of the evening, the police evacuated the Brazilian Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace four hours after the attack by the Bolsonarians.
The situation was quickly brought under control, although a large number of protesters who refused to recognize the election of Lula remain in the vicinity of the seats of power in the Brazilian capital.
According to several media in the country, at least 150 Bolsonaroists (more than 300 according to CNN Brazil) has been arrested. Television images showed them descending in single file, hands behind their backs, the ramp to the Planalto presidential palace framed by police. In other images, we can see a bus full of arrested protesters heading towards a police station.
Police have gradually regained control of the site, using water cannons if necessary to keep the most ardent supporters of Jair Bolsonaro at bay.
A judge at the Brazilian Supreme Court also decided Sunday night to suspend Brazilian Governor Ibaneis Rocha for a period of 90 days after what he described as security breaches that allowed the invasion of official buildings by supporters of ex-president Jair. Bolsonaro.
Alexandre de Moraes also decided that the camps erected by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro near military bases should be evacuated within 24 hours and that the roads and buildings should be cleared.
He also asked the social networks Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to block the accounts of users who spread anti-democratic propaganda.
The ex-president comes out of silence, Lula sees the damage
From Miami, where he sought refuge after his defeat in the presidential election, the 67-year-old former head of state took to Twitter to lament the events: “Peaceful protest in the form of the law is part of democracy. However, looting and invasions of public buildings as they have occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule. […] Throughout my tenure, I have always stayed within the four lines of the Constitution, respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom.”.
President Lula, meanwhile, returned to Brasilia on Sunday night, where he went to see the search of the presidential palace and then the Supreme Court, according to images from Globe TV.
The leftist head of state, who has only been in office for a week, had earlier said in a speech from the state of Sao Paulo that his far-right predecessor had “encouraged” them “fascist vandals” to invade the places of power in Brasilia.
Accusations rejected by Bolsonaro: “I reject the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current CEO of Brazil”.