World

Brazil’s Lula says rioters will be ‘found and punished’ as Bolsonaro supporters invade government buildings

Brazilian President Lula da Silva has said rioters will be found and punished with the “full force of the law” after supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the country’s presidential palace, Congress, Supreme Court and ministries’ building.

Footage and images on social media show what looked like thousands of people, many draped in the yellow and green of the Brazil flag, streaming up the steps of the National Congress building in the capital city.

It is understood the supporters broke through a blockade set up by security forces and invaded the ministries building and Congress.

Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building in Brasilia. Pic: AP
Image:
Protesters, supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building in Brasilia. Pic: AP

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries from the riots, but the invaders left a trail of destruction,
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.

Congress, Supreme Court and the presidential palace have now all been retaken by security forces, according to Brazilian news channel GloboNews.

Local media estimated that about 3,000 people were involved.

Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is currently in Sao Paulo state, on an official trip.

More on Brazil

Rioters are ‘fascists, fanatics’

In a speech, he declared a federal security intervention in Brasilia following the riots, branding the protesters “fascists, fanatics” and that they would be punished “with the full force of law”.

The federal intervention in the Brazilian capital will last until 31 January, he added.

He described the protests as “barbarism” and said everyone involved in the riots “will be found and punished”.

Lula later accused Mr Bolsonaro of being a “genocidist” who “is encouraging this via social media from Miami”.

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

Those who targeted Congress climbed the building’s roof and broke the glass in its windows.

Protesters were seen on television smashing furniture inside the Supreme Court and Congress.

Protesters stand on the roof of the National Congress building after storming it
Image:
Protesters stand on the roof of the National Congress building after storming it
A man waves Brazil's flag as supporters of Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate outside Brazil's National Congress
Image:
A man waves Brazil’s flag as supporters of Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate outside Brazil’s National Congress

Bolsonaro rejects accusations

Mr Bolsonaro said he “repudiates” Lula’s accusations as he reacted to the invasion of government buildings in the capital Brasilia.

He tweeted that peaceful demonstrations were a part of democracy but that any invasion of public buildings “crosses the line”.

Images on TV channel Globo News showed protesters roaming the presidential palace.

Some of those who protested have called for the military to get involved in restoring Mr Bolsonaro to power, carrying banners that proclaim “military intervention”.

Some of the pictures that have emerged showed protesters clashing with security personnel, with tear gas being used.

Videos posted on Twitter also revealed the destruction protesters have caused inside the Supreme Federal Court, including trashed-up furniture and smashed windows.

Criminal investigation requested

Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the Attorney General requested the “immediate opening of criminal investigative proceedings aimed at the accountability of those involved”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Inside Brazil’s ransacked Congress

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Solicitor General Office said it has requested the arrest of Brasilia’s public security secretary Anderson Torres over the riots.

Brazil Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes announced late on Sunday it would remove Brasilia Governor Ibaneis Rocha for 90 days – alleging security flaws that allowed the invasion of the government buildings.

The incidents have echoes of the 6 January 2021 invasion of the US Capitol and come after the left-wing Mr da Silva was sworn in on 1 January.

Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with security forces
Image:
Supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with security forces
Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro clashed with police outside the Planalto Palace building
Image:
Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro clashed with police outside the Planalto Palace building

Supporters of Mr Bolsonaro have been protesting against Mr Lula’s election win since 30 October, blocking roads, setting fire to vehicles and gathering outside military buildings, asking the armed forces to intervene.

Lula da Silva beat Mr Bolsonaro in the vote but the former president repeatedly questioned, without evidence, the credibility of the country’s electronic voting system. Many of his hardcore supporters have continued to believe him.

It comes just days after reports that the presidential palace had been left in a “deteriorated” condition after Mr Bolsonaro moved out, with several items allegedly missing.

Pictures have emerged of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro in Florida, after he quit the role with two days to go in his term
Image:
Pictures have emerged of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro in Florida, after he quit the role with two days to go in his term

According to Ms da Silva, who showed Brazilian TV network TV Globo around after she moved in, rugs had been torn, floors damaged, a window broken, water leaks had stained a ceiling, and a massive banquet hall left bare of furniture.

Mr Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before his full term elapsed.

‘Conservative coup attempt’

Many world leaders have come out to support the Brazilian government, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying: “All my support to President @LulaOficial and to the free and democratically elected institutions of the Brazilian people.”

The US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said the US condemned attacks on the Brazilian presidency, Congress and Supreme Court, and urged the “immediate end” to the riots.

President Joe Biden called the situation in Brazil “outrageous” and condemned “the assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil”.

Protesters stormed the National Congress building in Brazil
Image:
Protesters stormed the National Congress building in Brazil

The UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted: “The violent attempts to undermine democracy in Brazil are
unjustifiable. President @LulaOficial and the government of Brazil have the full support of the UK.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said the will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions “must be respected”, before saying Lula can “count on France’s unwavering support”.

Mexican President Lopez Obrador tweeted he condemned the “conservative coup attempt” in Brazil, adding that rioters were “encouraged by the oligarchic power leadership, their spokespersons and fanatics”.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric said: “The Brazilian government has our full support in the face of this cowardly and vile attack on democracy.”

Articles You May Like

Europe is set to ramp up its oil war against Russia — and markets are bracing for more disruption
Police search around-the-clock for suspect in brutal kidnapping
Beyond the ‘balloon watch’ gimmicks this is an extremely serious moment
Concerns about golden eagles are partly prompting the redesign of a Scottish wind farm
150 armored electric vehicles hitting US streets for the future of secure cash delivery