Article by Josette Combes, RIPESS Europe

Thousands of supporters of Brazil’s extreme-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro invaded Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, the main places of power in Brasilia on Sunday, January 8. Images reminiscent of the invasion of the Capitol in the United States.

These protesters were condemning the return to power a week ago of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in the second round on October 30, 2022.

The area near the Square of the Three Powers, where the presidential palace of the Planalto, the Supreme Court and Congress rub shoulders, had been cordoned off by the authorities, but the Bolsonarists managed to break the security cordons.

On a trip to São Paolo, Lula denounced these incidents committed by “fascists” and “fanatics” who “will be punished with all the force of the law.” He decreed a “federal intervention” to regain control of the security of the capital. Dozens of protesters were arrested.

Lula then returned to Brasilia where he went to see the ransacking of the presidential palace and then the Supreme Court.

Jair Bolsonaro, who left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before the end of his term, said on Twitter that “depredations and invasions of public buildings (…) are contrary to the rule” governing “peaceful demonstrations”. In another tweet, however, Jair Bolsonaro “rejected the accusations, without evidence” of his successor Lula, who said that the “speech” of his far-right predecessor had “encouraged” the “fascist vandals” who invaded the places of power of Brasilia.

Some 300 rioters were arrested that evening. And on Monday morning, at least 1,200 Bolsonarists who occupied an encampment in the heart of Brasilia were arrested in turn, when the military police and army dismantled their encampment.

Installed for more than two months, they demanded military intervention to prevent Lula’s accession to power. The encampment provided the bulk of the attackers’ strength on Sunday.

Other camps set up in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (southeast) were dismantled on Monday, AFP-TV journalists reported.

The governor of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha, was suspended Sunday night for 90 days of his functions by the Supreme Court for security failures in the Brazilian capital.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has won broad support from his country’s political and judicial power.

Lula met with the presidents of the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the Supreme Court at the Planalto Palace. They signed a joint declaration “in defence of democracy” published on the Twitter account of the left-wing head of state.

The sentence also found an echo in the streets of São Paulo, on the emblematic Paulista Avenue, where, late in the night from Sunday to Monday, tens of thousands of people gathered to “defend democracy” and demand “the imprisonment of the putschists”. Messages condemning the incidents and supporting President Lula poured in from Latin America and around the world.

Source France 24, AFP, Reuters.

For a more in-depth analysis, read the article by Boaventura de Sousa Santos (in Spanish): Brasil: advertencia a la navegación democrática