Brazil In Chaos : Supreme Court And Congress Destroyed By Protesters Who Stormed the Capital

 January 9, 2023

On Sunday, thousands of opponents of socialist convicted felon, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stormed his offices and the headquarters of the Congress and Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) of Brazil. Causing “irreparable” damage to priceless artifacts in the chambers, the crowd reportedly demolished the facades of two of the three buildings. While Lula himself, was in Sao Paulo state, assessing the damage of recent floods. the riot in Brasilia broke out.

Following the October presidential election, that saw Lula narrowly defeat, then-incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro in two rounds of voting, this incident is an offshoot of months of protests. Most protesters oppose Lula’s victory as illegitimate, on several grounds and support Bolsonaro more broadly.

Reportedly, the people take issue with his multiple convictions on charges of corrupt acts, occurring during his first two terms as president. In an, audit of the 2022 runoff presidential election, - only Bolsonaro and Lula as were offered as candidates.  Further, the Armed Forces of Brazil, were unable to guarantee the absence of fraud or irregularities.

The Brazilian people accused, its head justice Alexandre de Moraes, of intervening in the election by censoring mention of Lula’s corruption cases. Protesters seemingly sought to further silence Bolsonaro supporters, through fines and police raids.

On January 1, Lula’s inauguration occurred without major incident. However. immediately, afterwards Lulu began using his powers to undo Bolsonaro policies. The most significant of which, is the fact that, he is sharply limiting civilian access to firearms. Last month, Flavio Dino, Lula’s pick for justice minister, referred to the anti-Lula protest groups as “incubators of terrorism.”

On Sunday, many of the protesters convening in Brasilia, were a-part of a movement demanding that the nation’s military oust Lula. They insist that their demand is for a “military intervention”, that they say the Brazilian constitution provides for, in the event of an illegitimate election.

On Sunday urging the military, some protesters shared videos on social media, during the event saying-

“save us from communism.”

Brazilian Protestors

Jovem Pan, the Brazilian news network, reported that what began as a peaceful protest on Sunday, against Lula, soon got out of control. Reportedly, “nearly 100” buses, overwhelming the number of police in the streets from around the country, drove into the capital. Protesters then tore down a barricade keeping them off of the Congressional building’s esplanade, climbed atop it, and stormed its roof. Hundreds of other protestors, destroyed the glass facade below.

Despite police attempting to hold back the wave of people, with tear gas, the mob successfully was able to gain access to the buildings. Reportedly, they were shouting slogans such as “Brazil is ours!”

After gaining access, protesters set part of the Congress on fire, destroying several offices. Authorities, have cited multiple Brazilian news sources with eyewitness accounts, to verify that total damage to the building was significant. Jovem Pan, the nation’s top court, documented shouts of “break everything, people!” One protester reportedly, “tore the door off of Minister Alexandre de Moraes’ office … and took it outside.”

O Globo, the left-leaning Brazilian newspaper, described the damage to the STF building, and its “historical heritage” as “irreparable.” Additionally, protesters destroyed several busts of former top court justices, potentially hundreds of years old. And lastly other historically significant pieces of artwork, and the main chamber, where the STF conducts its’ businesses were destroyed.

Reports of clashes with police also coexisted with reports of police engaging in friendly, apparently supportive conversation with some protesters. According to O Globo, in one video that surfaced online, protesters claimed police were affirming to them, that they support the anti-Lula movement. Capturing some dramatic moments of protesters, journalists also captured some protestors, coming to the aid of an officer, in a clash with other protesters.

On Sunday Lula, was not in Brasilia. Lula was in Araraquara, of the Sao Paulo state. Reportedly he was on a pre-planned trip, to assess the damage of recent flooding. Before his departure back to the capital on Sunday night, in a press conference, Lula condemned the police and security officials for not preventing the breaches. Lula wrote to his audience on Twitter, in comments paraphrasing his speech from Sao Paulo-

“You must have followed the barbarism in Brasilia today,”. “Those people we call fascists, the most abominable thing in politics, invaded the palace and Congress. We think there was a lack of security.” [Lula claimed police] “did absolutely nothing” to protect the capital and accused them of “bad faith.”

-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Appointing an official public security czar for Brasilia, that now has the power to consolidate various security agency powers and override Brasilia officials, Lula announced an official executive decree “intervening” in Brasilia Federal District (DF). Supposedly, these powers are in effect through January 31.

Jair Bolsonaro, who had earlier surfaced on social media today, to boast of his administration’s infrastructure record, without addressing the protests or Lula, finally weighed in, on the situation. On Sunday night via his Twitter account, saying-

“Peaceful protests, according to the law, are part of democracy. However, destruction and invasion of public buildings like those that happened today, just as those committed by the left in 2013 and 2017, are out of line,” [referring to past riots]“Throughout my mandate [presidency], I was always within the confines of the constitution, respecting and defending the law, democracy, transparency, and our sacred liberty.”… “In addition, I repudiate the accusations, without proof, attributed to me on the part of the current chief executive of Brazil,”

-Jair Bolsonaro, Former Incumbent President

“When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. When things feel extraordinary, strive for ordinary. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters.”

-Kristin Armstrong
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