IF government Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, believes his Jan. 1 inauguration will end protests by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, the man he replaced, on Jan. 8. Events show that this is wishful thinking.Around 3 p.m., in the capital Brasilia, thousands of people bolsonist The modernist buildings of the Congress and Supreme Court were attacked, as well as the presidential palace, breaking windows and damaging furniture. Many rebels have camped out in front of the federal army headquarters since October, when Mr Bolsonaro lost a close election to Lula, the widely known leftist incumbent. Led by the right-wing populist Mr Bolsonaro, they believe the election was stolen and have called on the military for a coup.
Sunday, perhaps realizing that there will be no coup, bolsonist Decided to do it myself. Although the riot took place when Congress was not in session, meaning the buildings invaded were mostly empty, it bears a striking resemblance to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by followers of Donald Trump. in the senate, bolsonist Climb onto the stage and slide down it as if it were a playground slide. At the Supreme Court, they ripped the judge’s door from its hinges and posted photos on social media of them holding it aloft as if it were a trophy.
But if the riots in Washington revealed lapses in police intelligence and coordination, their Brazilian counterparts suggested something more worrisome. While there is no evidence that the police were involved in the riots, at least they were passive. Shortly after Congress began its invasion of Brasilia, a group of police officers were photographed chatting with protesters, taking selfies and filming the mayhem rather than taking action to stop it. A plea for support from the Senate police chief to the governor of Brasilia’s Federal District, an ally of Mr Bolsonaro, was ignored until late in the afternoon. (In an apparent attempt to save face, the governor fired his security secretary, Mr. Bolsonaro’s attorney general.)
As many of Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters cheered the rebels in Washington since January 6, 2021, Brazilian security experts, politicians and diplomats have loudly warned that the militants could bolsonist Something similar could be tried in Brazil. “The whole world knows this could happen,” said Renato Sérgio de Lima of the Brazilian Forum for Public Safety, an NGO. On Lula’s inauguration day, economist visited Bolsonarista Camped out outside army headquarters, watching one of the leaders exchange text messages in an ominously named, recently created WhatsApp group called “Estrategia 2” or “Strategy 2.” The last few days, bolsonist on social media There have been calls for demonstrations in the capital. Mr Lima believes it is unlikely that the police were unaware of the plans to invade government buildings.
Shortly before 6 p.m., Lula announced a federal security intervention in the Brasilia region, placing the police under the command of officials he appointed. He called the protesters “fascists” and “sabotage” and accused Mr Bolsonaro of “fomenting” the invasion. The former president has yet to concede defeat in October’s election. To avoid passing the presidential belt to his successor, he spent Inauguration Day in Florida. From there, he denounced the violent methods of his supporters, even if they were not their targets.
By evening, police managed to take control of all three government buildings, using tear gas and pepper spray to drive away the protesters. According to Lula’s attorney general, more than 400 people were arrested and about 40 buses used to transport them were confiscated. Lula has vowed to prosecute the protesters and anyone involved in planning and financing the invasion.
A trickier challenge will be understanding the police blunders behind the riots and preventing future attempts bolsonist Create confusion. The federal intervention gave Lula’s government broad powers to investigate and fire any official who, because of his political beliefs, is proven to be violating his duties; it could set in motion similar reform efforts in other Brazilian states. That could divert attention from other pressing issues, such as a series of much-needed economic reforms. After years of political and economic turmoil, Brazilians desperately need stability. They will have to wait longer. ■