Far-right supporters of Bolsonaro storm congress in Brazil

The far-right extremists invaded Brazil's congress, presidential palace and supreme court, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Far-right extremists attacking Brazil's congress. They are dressed in yellow and green, there is smoke and the police is behind barricades.
Image: Via Twitter - @AmautaNew

On Sunday, January 8, thousands of supporters of Brazil’s far-right ex-President Jair Bolsonaro invaded the country’s congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court. The attack was compared to the US Capitol invasion by followers of Donald Trump that took place two years ago.

Donning the green and yellow colours of the Brazilian flag, the protesters stormed the three buildings, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Videos shared on social media show broken furniture, smashed windows and even fires burning inside Brazil’s congress as a result of the far-right invaders’ attack. Reports also mentioned stolen objects in the presidential palace and the supreme court and some parts of congress flooded with a sprinkler system.

Three hours after the first reports of the invasion appeared, security forces managed to retake Brazil’s three most important buildings. According to Brasilia’s Civil Police, 300 people were arrested in relation to the attack. Many raised questions about how little opposition the far-right extremists faced during the invasion and how unprepared security forces were, despite the fact that rioters had been planning their gathering for days on social media.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said that this invasion “could only have happened with the acquiescence, or even direct involvement, of public security and intelligence authorities” and consequently ordered Brasilia governor Ibaneis Rocha, a long-time Bolsonaro supporter, to be removed from his post for 90 days.

The attack on the three buildings in the capital was the culmination of months of tension following last October’s presidential vote when former President Bolsonaro lost to the leftist candidate Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. The said vote was considered one of the most important elections in Brazil’s history, as it represented the end of five years of homophobic, sexist and xenophobic attacks made by Bolsonaro and his supporters.

Lula, who had already won two other elections in the past, was sworn in as Brazil’s new president last Sunday. His victory was seen as a win for social democracy, the environment and civil rights, as he is known for his ability to communicate with lawmakers and for having convinced congress and parliament to pass progressive laws in the past, some even protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil.

However, many of Bolsonaro’s supporters refused to accept the outcome of this election, claiming that Brazil’s electronic voting system was at fault and calling for a military coup. After their attack, Lula ordered a federal security intervention in Brasilia that will last until January 31.

“These vandals, who we could call… fanatical fascists, did what has never been done in the history of this country,” said Lula during a press conference. “All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished.”

He then accused former President Bolsonaro of inflaming his supporters with his allegations about potential election fraud. “Everybody knows there are various speeches of the ex-president encouraging this,” Lula said.

After hours of silence, Bolsonaro took to Twitter to say that he “repudiates” Lula’s accusations and commented on the attacks saying that, while peaceful demonstrations are an integral part of democracy, invading and damaging public buildings “crosses the line”.

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