Bolsonaro Fanatics Storm Congress in Brazilian Echo of Jan. 6
Hordes of supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro assaulted Congress, the Supreme Court, and other key government buildings in the country’s capital on Sunday, recalling the historic attack on the U.S. Capitol just over two years ago.Despite an attempt by police to dispel the mob with tear gas, protesters overwhelmed security barriers and broke
Hordes of supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro assaulted Congress, the Supreme Court, and other key government buildings in the country’s capital on Sunday, recalling the historic attack on the U.S. Capitol just over two years ago.
Despite an attempt by police to dispel the mob with tear gas, protesters overwhelmed security barriers and broke windows to enter the buildings, which are located in Brasília’s Three Powers square, the Associated Press reported.
Local television channels and footage shared on social media showed protesters, decked out in green and yellow, heading up a large ramp to the congressional building. Some reached the Senate chamber, where they were seen in video footage bouncing around the room, using benches as slides.
Crowds similarly streamed into the presidential offices, where they roamed around and built barricades with furniture. “They are throwing chairs out of the windows,” one commentator for local outlet GloboNews explained.
In another eerie echo of the Jan. 6 riots, some livestreamed the occasion, encouraging their viewers to “like and subscribe,” The New York Times reported.
Roughly 3,srcsrcsrc protesters, many of whom have been camped out on the plaza for days, were on the scene, according to local news estimates cited by Reuters.
Army officers were present on the scene, both on the ground and in the air. Soldiers in a helicopter appeared to be firing both anti-riot ammunition and tear-gas canisters at the crowd, the Times said.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was not home at the time of the assault, instead he was reportedly on an official trip to São Paulo state. Congress was similarly not in session.
Though the presidential and congressional offices stood mostly empty, CNN reported that a team was working in the palace when the protesters breached the building. Several officials were still waiting to be evacuated by the Air Force in the midst of the chaos.
Da Silva, commonly known as Lula, announced he would enact an emergency decree allowing the federal government full powers to bring the capital back under control by “any measures necessary.”
The decree will remain in effect until the end of the month.
In a statement, Valdemar Costa Neto, a congressman serving as the head of Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party, said it was a “sad day” for Brazil. “We cannot agree with the plundering of the national Congress,” he continued.
“All orderly demonstrations are legitimate. Disorder has never been part of our nation’s principles. I want to tell you that we vehemently disapprove of this type of attitude and let the law be enforced, strengthening our democracy.”
Flavio Dino, Brazil’s minister for justice, tweeted that the “absurd attempt to impose their will by force will not prevail,” adding, “The government of the Federal District has ensured there will be reinforcements. And the forces at our disposal are at work.”
Senate President Rodrigo Pachecho similarly condemned the attack, tweeting, “I vehemently repudiate these anti-democratic acts, which must urgently undergo the rigor of the law.”
Many of Bolsonaro’s supporters have categorically refused to accept that he lost the nation’s presidential election to his far-left rival in October. Some have called for the military to intervene and forcefully overturn the election.
Bolsonaro, who served as Brazil’s president from 2src19 until last month, has baselessly alleged that a software bug compromised a swath of the country’s voting machines during the election.
In November, a pro-Bolsonaro coalition filed a complaint with local electoral authorities, claiming to have found “signs of irreparable … malfunction” in the machines. A day later, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes fined the coalition $4.3 million for the “bad faith” attempt to overturn the election.
Da Silva was inaugurated last week after winning 51 percent of the vote in a neck-and-neck runoff election.
Having fled Brazil following his loss, Bolsonaro is currently in Orlando, Florida—staying in a home owned by a mixed-martial-arts fighter just a few miles away from Disney World.