Supporters of ex-President Bolsonaro storm Brazil's Congress, Supreme Court

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Monday, January 9, 2023

Protesters outside a barracks in Ilhéus with a sign reading "Military intervention with Bolsonaro in power" ((pt))Potuguese language: ‍Intervenção militar com Bolsonaro no poder on December 30, 2022.
Image: User:Ixocactus.

Supporters of far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the Brazilian Congress and the Supreme Court and surrounded the presidential palace in Brazil's capital Brasília today, a week after the inauguration of leftist opponent Lula da Silva.

Police have now retaken the buildings and detained hundreds of those in the mob.

In a scene that recalled the 2021 storming of the US Capitol, a mob, donned in Brazil's national colours green and yellow, marched from the army headquarters to the Three Powers Plaza that connects the government buildings.

Footage from national television and social media show an estimated three thousand protesters smashed windows, climbed on roofs and broke through barriers, while police used tear gas but failed. Once inside, they smashed furniture, committed acts of vandalism and erected barricades to stop security from entering.

Neither house of Congress are in session and da Silva (Lula) is in São Paulo state, however some staffers were at the presidential palace and are awaiting aerial evacuation, according to CNN Brazil.

Justice Minister Flávio Dino posted on Twitter: "This absurd attempt to impose their will by force will not prevail. The government of the Federal District [Brasilia] has ensured there will be reinforcements" ((pt))Portuguese language: ‍Essa absurda tentativa de impor a vontade pela força não vai prevalecer. O Governo do Distrito Federal afirma que haverá reforços. and confirmed he was at the ministry's headquarters.

Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco separately confirmed he was in 'permanent contact' with Governor of the Federal District Ibaneis Rocha, who "is concentrating the efforts of the entire police apparatus in order to control the situation." ((pt))Portuguese language: ‍está concentrando os esforços de todo o aparato policial no sentido de controlar a situação.

World leaders have offered condemnation and sympathy for Lula: Spain's Pedro Sánchez offered his "full support to president Lula and to the institutions that were freely and democratically chosen by the Brazilian people", Chile's Gabriel Boric denounced a "cowardly and vile attack on democracy" and Colombia's Gustavo Petro said: "Fascism decides to conduct a coup."

Lula defeated army captain Bolsonaro in a fraught October 30 election that many protesters dispute, believing results to be unreliable. One, named Lima, told Agence France-Presse: "We need to re-establish order after this fraudulent election." Previously, Bolsonaro had made unfounded allegations against the electronic voting system and stopped short of conceding defeat.

On the eve of Lula's inauguration January 1, Bolsonaro left the country; a staunch ally of Donald Trump, he is currently in Florida.

His supporters previously camped outside military barracks to incite support for a military coup. On December 13, protesters set busses and cars alight as they tried to storm a failed to storm the police headquarters. The Associated Press has suggested today because Congress and the Supreme Court would have less security on a Sunday.

On January 6, 2021, supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. to block congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory in the past year's presidential election. In August, Thomas Shannon, the US ambassador to Brazil under Barack Obama, told The Guardian: "Bolsonaro and his team have looked very closely at what happened on January 6 trying to understand why it was that a sitting president failed in his effort to overturn election results".