Brasilia rioters had no agenda, no demands, Lula says

Brasilia/Rio de Janiero, Jan 9 (EFE).- The far-right rioters who invaded congress, the presidential palace and the supreme court did not have an agenda nor any demands, Brazil’s president told the country’s governors on Monday, as thousands gathered across the country to reject the weekend’s attack on democracy.

“What happened was planned. The people in the streets and in front of the barracks had no agenda or demands,” Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said during the emergency meeting with the 27 governors and the presidents of the legislative and judicial branches.

For Lula, the thousands of supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro who destroyed the insides of three government buildings on Sunday only wanted to “deny the result of the electoral process, trying to demonstrate that there are non-existent failures in the polls.”

The radicals had been camped in front of army barracks in several cities for two months asking for a military intervention in the form of a coup against Lula, who on Oct. 30 defeated Bolsonaro in the election runoff.

“A coup was the only thing that was heard” in the camps, which were dismantled on Monday by security organizations after a decision by the supreme court, Lula said.

According to the president, the new government, which took office on Jan. 1, had “ten ministers for negotiations” with the protesters. But, he questioned, “were they in front of the barracks, demanding what? Increased wages, more freedoms, housing, resumption of agricultural production? No, just a coup.”

Thousands of people gathered Monday in the main cities of the country to repudiate Sunday’s attack.

Protesters called for punishment for those who participated and also for Bolsonaro, whom they accuse of inciting the violence.

Huge posters with the phrases “Fascism will not win!” “No amnesty for the coup plotters,” “Brazil against terrorism” and “Democracy in peace” flooded the main streets and squares of the country.

Called by trade unions and left-wing parties, the protests spread to at least 11 of the country’s 27 states and had the greatest impact in the northeast and southeast of the country, but little was seen in the south of Brazil, traditionally right-wing regions.

According to Lula, the 1,500 or so people arrested during the assault on Sunday and in the camps on Monday “are going to remain imprisoned,” although he admitted that “they are possibly victims” of manipulation.

“We are going to find who financed and paid for it. I am a specialist in camps and strikes and it is impossible to go two months without having financing to guarantee them their daily bread. We are not going to be authoritarian, but we are going to investigate,” said the former union leader.

Also at the meeting, Sao Paulo governor and former Bolsonaro minister Tarcísio de Freitas urged “pacification” so that “Brazilian democracy becomes even stronger” with “gestures from all powers” and from the governors.

Another loyal to Bolsonaro, Chamber of Deputies president Arthur Lira, said at the meeting that “the institutions are not going to stop” and that measures will be taken against “this group that tried to leave democracy cowered.”

Supreme Court President Rosa Weber told the governors that the invasion saddened her enormously, but that this “historic property,” full of “symbols,” will be “rebuilt.” EFE


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