Brazilians Storm National Congress

By Margo Rawlings

Local Editor

Last October, after current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election, Bolsonaro contested his defeat, claiming that votes cast through Brazil’s electronic voting system were fraudulent due to a software bug. His supporters, labeled Bolsonaristas, also rejected the official results of the election, camping outside of army barracks across the country and demanding Lula’s removal from office. These protests were initially peaceful, though they quickly turned violent; protestors participated in violent blockades, attacks against police and civilians, and the storming of government agencies, which culminated in the attacks on the National Congress, Palácio Da Alvorada, and the Supreme Federal Court on Jan. 8.

Bolsonaristas began blockades around the country on Oct. 30, 2022, after the announcement of Lula’s victory. Then, on Nov. 18, blockades resumed after the Federal Highway Police had cleared a total of 1,087 roadblocks as of Nov. 9. Officers noted that these new demonstrations became exceedingly violent in nature; Bolsonaro’s supporters even attacked police by throwing stones and shooting at their vehicles. Other protesters threatened to burn students of the University of Rio de Janeiro alive because of their support of the new president. Finally, after Lula’s victory was confirmed by Brazilian courts, protestors stormed the Federal Police’s headquarters on Dec. 12 in an attempt to prevent the new president’s ratification. 

Just days before Lula’s inauguration on Jan. 1, Bolsonaro left Brazil, suggesting that his life was at risk, which his supporters saw as a cry for help. On Jan. 8, protestors marched almost 4.5 miles down Brasília’s main avenue toward congress with a premeditated plan to strike Brazil’s three branches of government. They openly posted online conversations regarding the insurrection on social media and phone apps such as Twitter and Zello as early as Jan. 6, which Brazil’s intelligence agency warned the government of. Protestors spent almost five hours within the capital buildings with little resistance from police who shook hands with Bolsonaro supporters and stood, chatting or filming crowds. 

Following the attack, Lula stated that the Brazilian government is carrying out “a thorough screening [of their staff] because the truth is that the [presidential] palace was full of Bolsonaristas and military officials, and we want to try to correct this so we can appoint career civil servants – preferably civilian ones … so that this becomes a civilized department.” 

As of Jan. 14, police have made various arrests, including the public security chief for the federal district of Brasília, Anderson Torres, and Col. Fábio Augusto, who was in charge of the deployed troops on Jan. 8. The investigation regarding the insurrection will continue as Lula noted when describing protestors. “These people are everything that is abominable in politics,” he said, adding that “all the people who did this will be found and punished.” 

(Sources: CNN, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, Politico)

Categories: News, World

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