Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva late on Jan. 8 visited the nation’s presidential palace, Congress, and the Supreme Court to assess the damage after rioters breached and defaced the three buildings earlier in the day.
Ongoing post-election demonstrations have played out in Brazil since Oct. 30, 2022, when Lula, a socialist, was declared the winner of the presidential election with 50.9 percent of the vote. He was sworn in on Jan. 1 as president for the third time.
Many of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters cast doubt over the authenticity of the result and have alleged potential election fraud.
Late Sunday, Lula ordered a “federal security intervention” in Brasilia until at least Jan. 31 in response to the day’s events. The move provides the federal government with extraordinary powers to take control of security in the federal district.
Meanwhile, Brasilia Gov. Ibaneis Rocha was removed from office for 90 days by Brazil’s Supreme Court, which cited security flaws in the capital for the decision.
Brazil Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes also ordered social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to block accounts of users who spread messages deemed anti-democratic or coup-mongering.
A Meta spokesperson told Reuters on Monday that the platform has “designated Brazil as a temporary high-risk location and have been removing content calling for people to take up arms or forcibly invade Congress, the Presidential palace and other federal buildings.”
“We are also designating this as a violating event, which means we will remove content that supports or praises these actions,” the Meta spokesperson added. “We are actively following the situation and will continue removing content that violates our policies.”
It comes after rioters on Jan. 8 flooded the three government buildings overlooking the Three Powers Square in Brasilia, with many donning the yellow and green national Brazilian flag as they smashed windows, toppled furniture, destroyed art works, stole the country’s original 1988 Constitution, and vandalized other structures in the three buildings, leaving the interiors in states of ruin. Parts of Congress was also flooded a sprinkler system.
But besides those who left a trail of destruction, hundreds of protesters outside the buildings appeared mostly peaceful.
In one video on Twitter, hundreds of people in clad in green and yellow can be seen surrounding the Congress building, with some holding a large sign that reads: “We want the source code,” purportedly referring to seeking the source code for the voting machines used in the latest election.
On Twitter, people speculated that infiltrators may have sought to turn the otherwise peaceful demonstration into something more violent, with one person pointing out that a video on the day showed protesters disarming an alleged infiltrator who was carrying knives and other weapon-like items.
Hours went by before control of the buildings on Brasilia’s vast Three Powers Square was reestablished, with hundreds of people arrested. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. More than 400 people had been arrested by the end of the day,
Speaking at a news conference in Brazil’s most populous state Sao Paulo prior to visiting the capital late Sunday, Lula called those who carried out the destruction “fanatical fascists,” adding, “these people need to be punished.”
Bolsonaro, who had flown to Florida less than two days ahead of Lula’s Jan. 1 inauguration, pushed back against Lula’s statements while condemning the attacks.
“Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy,” Bolsonaro said, according to a translated version of his Twitter post. “However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, crossed the line.
“In addition, I repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current head of the executive of Brazil,” he added. “Throughout my mandate, I have always been within the four lines of the Constitution, respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom.”
Read the full story here.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.