Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the riots, saying Australia stood with the democratically elected government.
“When democracies have elections, it’s important that they be respected and tragically we’ve seen here actions that look a bit similar to what happened at the US Capitol building on January 6 after the election of President Biden. It’s important that we respect democratic processes,” Albanese said.
The police officers who filmed the mob approaching were caught on camera and reported by local media outlet G1.
Video footage aired on Brazilian television shows thousands of supporters clad in the colours of the Brazilian flag filming themselves causing damage or simply walking around the complex that houses the Congress (both the House of the Representatives and the Senate), and other government buildings.
It was not yet clear how the mob was able to advance so rapidly onto the buildings, but Lula blamed Bolsonaro and a lack of security in the capital, saying authorities had allowed the mob to wreak havoc.
Within hours, Ibaneis Rocha, governor of Brasilia’s Federal District, fired the head of his Security Ministry, Anderson Torres, announcing on Twitter that he had put the entire staff of his security forces on the streets “with orders to arrest and punish those responsible”. He said he also requested help from the federal government and made his forces available to them.
Torres, who was justice minister in Bolsonaro’s government, left for the US on Saturday, according to the Folha de SP newspaper. He told the publication the security planning for any eventual violence arising from Bolsonaro supporters had been done. And he denied rumours he had gone to the US to meet Bolsonaro, who left Brazil two days before the end of his mandate.
“There was no conspiracy for this act,” Torres said adding it was his first holiday in a long time.
A short time later the Solicitor-General’s office said it had requested Torres’ arrest, Reuters reported.
Moraes later removed Rocha for 90 days, alleging security flaws. He ruled that months-old camps outside military barracks and roadblocks set up by Bolsonaro supporters should be dismantled within 24 hours. He also ordered Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to block accounts spreading anti-democratic propaganda.
Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting against Lula’s victory since the election results were announced on October 30. Lula won on a second round with a small margin of 2 million votes, gaining 50.1 per cent to Bolsonaro’s 49.1.
So-called “Bolsonaristas” have been staging protests since then asking for military intervention to overturn a “stolen election” and to restore Bolsonaro to power. The armed forces declared they would respect the results of the democratic election and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared the results valid in a final report.
The Vem Pra Rua (Come to the street) group, which organised many of the right’s protests, put out a statement condemning the violence. It said that “vandalism and crime against public property” were inconsistent with its protests.
A failed lawsuit by Bolsonaro’s party and allies to force the annulment of half of the votes was dismissed as “bad faith litigation” and the parties were fined about 22.9 million reais ($6.3 million).
The far-right president never conceded defeat, saying only that he understood his backers’ frustrations and he, too, was “sad”.
He left for Florida on December 30. Like Trump, who refused to attend Biden’s inauguration, Bolsonaro refused to attend Lula’s and pass the presidential sash. (The sash, in the end, was presented to Lula by a group of 12 “representatives of the people” including a black garbage collector, a 10-year-old boy and the famous 90-year-old indigenous chief Raoni.)
Bolsonaro, who during the riot published multiple posts to his social media accounts extolling his government’s achievements, later issued a statement on Twitter speaking out against the protesters.
“Peaceful demonstrations, within the law, are part of democracy. But depredations and invasions of public buildings like we saw today, like the acts done by the left in 2013 and 2017, are not within the rules,” he wrote.
In the US, Democratic representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joaquin Castro called for him to be expelled.
As president, Bolsonaro had, before the election, repeatedly questioned without evidence the credibility of the country’s electronic voting system, and many of his hardcore supporters believed him.
Lula was in Sao Paulo on a trip to investigate flood damage to rural communities. He said rioters and their financial backers would be punished.
“You must have seen the barbarism in Brasilia today. Those people we call fascists, the most abominable in politics today, invaded Congress. We believe there was a lack of security. Those who did this will be found and punished. Our democracy guarantees the right to free expression but also demands that people respect the institutions. There is no precedent in our history for what they did today,” he wrote on Twitter before holding a press conference.
On return to Brasilia, Lula signed a decree authorising a federal intervention in the local security forces, but stopped short of ordering the army to move in or declaring a state of emergency.
“All the people who did this will be found and punished,” Lula said.
Pedro Henrique de Christo, a former candidate for senator, and national coordinator of a popular left-wing movement working on Lula’s Green New Deal, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, the president had acted correctly in not ordering the army to take control of the entire country.
“It was very important to solve the local problem locally and to send a message to military police in other states not to support such acts by Bolsonaro supporters,” Christo said.
Brazilian media reported the rioters were transported to the capital over the weekend on about 100 buses and had received payment and/or meals for their participation.
By evening Brasilia time, (mid-morning AEDT) authorities had cleared protesters from government buildings and regained control of the main square in the capital.
The assault raised questions among Lula’s allies about how police were so unprepared and easily overwhelmed by rioters who had announced their plans days ahead on social media.
Justice Minister Flavio Dino called the events a coup attempt and highlighted the slow reaction by local police. He said Bolsonaro was politically but not legally responsible for the events. He said 200 people had been arrested.
with AP, Bloomberg, agencies