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Brazil’s Lula says rioters will be ‘found and punished’ as Bolsonaro supporters invade government buildings

Brazilian President Lula da Silva has said rioters will be found and punished with the “full force of the law” after supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the country’s presidential palace, Congress, Supreme Court and ministries’ building.

Footage and images on social media show what looked like thousands of people, many draped in the yellow and green of the Brazil flag, streaming up the steps of the National Congress building in the capital city.

It is understood the supporters broke through a blockade set up by security forces and invaded the ministries building and Congress.

Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building in Brasilia. Pic: AP
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Protesters, supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, storm the the National Congress building in Brasilia. Pic: AP

Protesters also surrounded the Planalto Palace, according to Reuters, and entered the Supreme Court, with online videos showing the building being ransacked.

Congress, Supreme Court and the presidential palace have now all been retaken by security forces, according to Brazilian news channel GloboNews.

Local media estimated that about 3,000 people were involved.

Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is currently in Sao Paulo state, on an official trip.

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Rioters are ‘fascists, fanatics’

In a speech, he declared a federal security intervention in Brasilia following the riots, branding the protesters “fascists, fanatics” and that they would be punished “with the full force of law”.

The federal intervention in the Brazilian capital will last until 31 January, he added.

He described the protests as “barbarism” and said everyone involved in the riots “will be found and punished”.

Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes backed his comments, tweeting that “despicable terrorist attacks on democracy and republican institutions will be held accountable”.

Those who targeted Congress climbed the building’s roof and broke the glass in its windows.

Protesters were seen on television smashing furniture inside the Supreme Court and Congress.

Protesters stand on the roof of the National Congress building after storming it
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Protesters stand on the roof of the National Congress building after storming it
A man waves Brazil's flag as supporters of Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate outside Brazil's National Congress
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A man waves Brazil’s flag as supporters of Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate outside Brazil’s National Congress

Images on TV channel Globo News showed protesters roaming the presidential palace.

Some of those who protested have called for the military to get involved in restoring Mr Bolsonaro to power, carrying banners that proclaim “military intervention”.

Some of the pictures that have emerged showed protesters clashing with security personnel, with tear gas being used.

Videos posted on Twitter also revealed the destruction protesters have caused inside the Supreme Federal Court, including trashed-up furniture and smashed windows.

Criminal investigation requested

Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the Attorney General requested the “immediate opening of criminal investigative proceedings aimed at the accountability of those involved”.

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Inside Brazil’s ransacked Congress

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Solicitor General Office said it has requested the arrest of Brasilia’s public security secretary Anderson Torres over the riots.

The incidents have echoes of the 6 January 2021 invasion of the US Capitol and come after the left-wing Mr da Silva was sworn in on 1 January.

Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with security forces
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Supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with security forces
Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro clashed with police outside the Planalto Palace building
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Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro clashed with police outside the Planalto Palace building

Supporters of Mr Bolsonaro have been protesting against Mr Lula’s election win since 30 October, blocking roads, setting fire to vehicles and gathering outside military buildings, asking the armed forces to intervene.

Lula da Silva beat Bolsonaro in the vote but the former president repeatedly questioned, without evidence, the credibility of the country’s electronic voting system. Many of his hardcore supporters have continued to believe him.

It comes just days after reports that the presidential palace had been left in a “deteriorated” condition after Mr Bolsonaro moved out, with several items allegedly missing.

Pictures have emerged of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro in Florida, after he quit the role with two days to go in his term
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Pictures have emerged of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro in Florida, after he quit the role with two days to go in his term

According to Ms da Silva, who showed Brazilian TV network TV Globo around after she moved in, rugs had been torn, floors damaged, a window broken, water leaks had stained a ceiling, and a massive banquet hall left bare of furniture.

Mr Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before his full term elapsed.

Protesters stormed the National Congress building in Brazil
Image:
Protesters stormed the National Congress building in Brazil

‘Conservative coup attempt’

Many world leaders have come out to support the Brazilian government, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying: “All my support to President @LulaOficial and to the free and democratically elected institutions of the Brazilian people.”

The US secretary of state Anthony Blinken said the US condemned attacks on the Brazilian presidency, Congress and Supreme Court, and urged the “immediate end” to the riots.

President Joe Biden called the situation in Brazil “outrageous”.

Mexican President Lopez Obrador tweeted he condemned the “conservative coup attempt” in Brazil, adding that rioters were “encouraged by the oligarchic power leadership, their spokespersons and fanatics”.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric said: “The Brazilian government has our full support in the face of this cowardly and vile attack on democracy.”

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