Supporters of former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brasília on Sunday in an attempted insurrection. The riots follow the victory and swearing in of left wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also known as ‘Lula’. Bolsonaro’s right wing supporters are unwilling to accept his loss in the October election, and are calling for the new President’s resignation.
The protestors broke past security barriers and began vandalising the property. They destroyed historical artefacts, smashed windows, started fires and attacked police officers who attempted to control them. Outside the army headquarters, about 3,000 protestors set up camps, which security forces are clearing up. Authorities have detained about 1,500 people in relation to the violence.
Presient Lula, who declared emergency powers, has condemned the violence and vandalism, calling them “terrorist acts”. He has announced that he will be conducting an investigation into who financed an attack of such a large scale. He tweeted, “It is not possible for a movement to last as long as it did in front of the barracks if there are no people financing it. We’re going to investigate and we’re going to find out who financed it. It was very difficult for us to conquer democracy in this country. We need to learn to coexist democratically in diversity.”
Não é possível um movimento durar o tempo que durou na frente dos quartéis se não tiver gente financiando. Vamos investigar e vamos chegar a quem financiou. Foi muito difícil conquistarmos a democracia nesse país. Precisamos aprender a conviver democraticamente na diversidade.
— Lula (@LulaOficial) January 9, 2023
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has denied inciting the attack. He is currently hospitalised in the USA on account of abdominal pain.
The insurrection is reminiscent of the January 6 riots in the USA, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in the face of his loss to Joe Biden. As was true with those riots, people are once again concerned about issues like social media posts polarising people and incite violence, and the complicity of the police. Many have pointed out the similarities between the two incidents and examining the kind of example January 6 has set for democracies around the world two years down the line.
Police were allegedly taking selfies with Bolsonaro’s supporters as the violence took place. Journalist David Adler pointed out that these scenes are vastly different from the stringest policing employed when indigenous people were protesting peacefully in Brazil.
NEVER FORGET: This was how the Brasilia police responded to a peaceful protest of Indigenous peoples last year. Now, they take selfies with the insurrectionists as they ransack the Congress, Supreme Court, and Presidential Palace. pic.twitter.com/fYFdZBceie
— David Adler (@davidrkadler) January 8, 2023
Following the riots, thousands have joined hands to conduct demonstrations in São Paulo in support of democracy, opposing the storming of the Congress.