Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday breached security barriers set up by the armed forces and gained access to key buildings for the three branches of government, including the Congress building, the Supreme Court and the Planalto presidential palace, according to images shown in Brazilian media .
Footage shows huge crowds in Brazil’s capital climbing a ramp that leads to the building of Congress, where they reached the Green Room, located outside the chamber of the lower house of Congress, interim Senate President Veneziano Vital do Rogo told CNN Brasil .
Other outlets showed Bolsonaro supporters entering the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, where CNN Brasil showed the arrival of riot police and the Brazilian armed forces. Inside, protesters used furniture to build barricades to prevent police from entering, CNN Brasil reported.
The floor of the Congress building was flooded after the sprinkler system was activated when protesters tried to set the carpet on fire, according to CNN Brasil.
Additional videos show protesters inside the building taking gifts received from international delegations and destroying artwork.
The violations came about a week after the inauguration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose return to power after a 12-year hiatus comes after he defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff election on October 30.
The Bolsonaro administration previously said it was cooperating with the transition of powerbut the far-right leader did not explicitly acknowledge his election loss and left the country for the United States before Lula’s inauguration.
Bolsonaro’s supporters have since camped out in the capital. Justice Minister Flavio Dino authorized the armed forces to set up barriers and guard the congressional building on Saturday due to the continued presence of Bolsonaro supporters.
Neither house of Congress is currently in session. And while President Lula is not currently in the building, a team assembled for the president-elect was working inside the palace at the time the protesters entered, CNN Brasil reported. Employees at the Planalto Palace are waiting for the air force to evacuate them from the building, according to CNN Brasil.
President Lula on Sunday described the events as “barbaric” and called the Bolsonaro protesters who stormed government buildings “fascists”.
“These people are everything that is disgusting in politics, to invade the headquarters of the government, the headquarters of the Congress and the headquarters of the Supreme Court like true vandals, destroying everything in their path,” Lula said.
Lula also said there was a “lack of security” and said “all the people who did this will be found and punished.”
The President held a press conference in Araraquara, where he surveyed areas affected by severe flooding.
Brazilian officials condemned the demonstrators’ actions, which were reminiscent of January 6, 2021, when rioters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of the 2020 election and President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.
“The National Congress has never denied a vote to those who want to demonstrate peacefully. But it will never give place to disorder, destruction and vandalism,” Arthur Lira, Speaker of the House of Commons said on Twitter. “Those responsible for encouraging and inciting this attack on Brazilian democracy and its main symbols must be identified and punished in accordance with the law.”
Brazil’s Attorney General’s Office (MPF) said in a statement that it was investigating all those involved in the violations.
“The Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, is monitoring and monitoring with concern the acts of vandalism to public buildings that are occurring in Brazil this Sunday (8),” the MPF said.
Aras also “requested the Office of the Attorney General in the Federal District (PRDF) to immediately initiate a criminal investigation procedure aimed at bringing down those responsible.”
Hours after the breach, Brazil’s Federal District Military Police (PMDF) said in a statement that it had begun dispersing pro-Bolsonaro protesters inside the buildings.
Those identified as being involved in “acts of vandalism” were taken to the police station, according to the PMDF.
An estimated 30 protesters have been arrested, according to CNN Brasil, which aired videos showing busloads of protesters being arrested.
Dino, who said he was at Justice Department headquarters, condemned the actions of Bolsonaro’s supporters in a statement on Twitter, saying: “This absurd attempt to impose will by force will not prevail.”
Glazey Hoffman, president of the Workers’ Party, called the violations “a declared crime against democracy” and “against the will of the voters.”
Federal District Security Secretary Anderson Torres – and a former justice minister under Bolsonaro’s government – similarly called the scenes “deplorable”, adding that he had ordered “immediate steps to restore order in central Brazil”.
Torres, who was Bolsonaro’s justice minister, was appointed to the Federal District office by current governor Ibáñez Rocha, but was fired after Sunday’s violations.
Brazil’s federal public defender (AGU) asked the country’s Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant for Torres and “other public officials responsible for acts and omissions.”
AGU also demanded “the immediate evacuation of all federal public buildings throughout the country and the disbandment of anti-democratic acts committed near barracks and other military units.”
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday afternoon condemned the violence in Brazil’s capital and “any effort to undermine democracy in Brazil.”
“President Biden is closely monitoring the situation and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering. Brazilian democracy will not be shaken by violence,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter.
Portugal’s government said in a statement that it condemned “the acts of violence and disorder that took place today in Brazil” and pledged support for authorities “to restore order and legality.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron joined other world leaders in offering support to President Lula: “The will of the Brazilian people and democratic institutions must be respected! President Lula da Silva can count on France’s unconditional support,” Macron said on Twitter.
European Council President Charles Michel also condemned the “attack on Brazil’s democratic institutions” and pledged his support to the Brazilian president, as did Spain and Colombia.
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