Brasilia, Jan 8 (EFE).- Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday in Brasilia stormed into Planalto Palace, the seat of the government, and the Supreme Court after earlier bursting into the National Congress after being egged on for weeks by the Brazilian right’s claims that his reelection was “stolen” from him by leftist presidential candidate – and now president – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The hundreds of rampaging demonstrators broke windows at the Supreme Court and Congress, occupying the headquarters of all three branches of government.
Congress was not in session at the time, and the buildings occupied by the demonstrators were largely empty of officials, staffers or other workers.
However, images and video posted on the social networks brought to mind the violence at the US Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, when enraged supporters of then-President Donald Trump – with his encouragement – invaded the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win the previous November.
Lula, who is currently visiting the interior of Sao Paulo state, was not in Brasilia on Sunday.
Officers of the Legislative Police, which ensures security in Brazil’s Congress, were attacked by the protesters and many of the barriers that restrict movement at the seats of the government branches were destroyed by the hundeds of rioters.
The anti-democratic protesters called for the military to intervene in the situation to remove Lula from power after he assumed the presidency for his third non-consecutive term a week ago on Jan. 1 after defeating Bolsonaro in the election runoff last October.
The Bolsonaro radicals do not recognize Lula’s victory at the polls, with the leftist candidate obtaining 50.9 percent of the valid votes to the ultrarightist’s 49.1 percent in the Oct. 30 runoff balloting.
Officers with the Legislative Police and the National Security Force, an elite group of agents from different Brazilian states, unsuccessfully used tear gas to try and disperse the demonstrators, and the protesters, some of whom were carrying Brazilian flags and were armed with sticks or poles, continued to range within and around the government institutions.
Justice Minister Flavio Dino, who on Saturday had authorized the activation of the National Security Force amid the arrival in Brasilia of dozens of buses carrying Bolsonaro supporters, said that the radicals “will not prevail.”
In a Twitter post, Dino said that police “reinforcements” would be deployed to deal with the matter and that the security forces already on the scenes “are acting.”
“This absurd attempt to impose their will by force will not prevail. The government of the Federal District (of Brasilia) confirms that there will be reinforcements. And the forces that we have available are acting. I’m at the Justice Ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, the president of Brazil’s Congress, Sen. Rodrigo Pacheco, on Sunday in a message posted on the social networks “urgently” called for punishing the perpetrators of the violence and takeovers with the “full rigor of the law,” adding “I vehemently repudiate these anti-democratic acts, and they must urgently suffer the full rigor of the law.”
He said he was in “ongoing contact” with the governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis Rocha, who assured him he “is focusing the efforts of the entire police apparatus” to “control the situation.”
He added that “security forces of the Federal District” as well as “the Legislative Police of Congress” are being used in the effort to bring the rioting under control and protect government institutions.
Immediately after Bolsonaro’s defeat in the runoff, his supporters staged sit-ins and demonstrations in front of military barracks in several Brazilian cities calling for a military coup to prevent Lula’s inauguration and, in many locations, they have remained there over the past two months.
The rioting in Brasilia has sparked similar protests in other cities around the country, including Sao Paulo, where one of the main urban highways – the Avenida 23 de Mayo – was blocked by Bolsonaristas, preventing traffic from circulating near Congonhas Airport.
Bolsonaro did not attend Lula’s inauguration, having flown to Florida in late December and where he evidently has remained.