Speaker condemns riots calling for army coup to block handover to Lula

Brasilia, Dec 13 (EFE).- The president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, on Tuesday condemned the “violence” of the previous night after supporters of outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro rioted and set vehicles alight in the capital Brasilia.

Lira, an ally of far-right leader Bolsonaro, called for security measures in Brasilia to be boosted in the wake of the unrest, which comes three weeks ahead of the inauguration of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva as president.

“Our democratic tradition goes through order and peace,” Lira said on Twitter.

Several vehicles, including five buses, were set on fire and one person was injured in the riots on Monday night, according to a preliminary report by the Fire Department, as well as damaging buildings, tearing down road signs and burning garbage cans near the hotel where president-elect Lula was staying.

The speaker of the lower house said that while “demonstrations are part of democracy,” he “vehemently (repudiates) disorder, violence, and risk to physical integrity or to public and private property,” without explicitly mentioning the Bolsonaro supporters responsible for the riots.

The unrest was sparked by the arrest of a pro-Bolsonaro indigenous leader who was detained on Monday by court order, suspected of supporting “undemocratic acts” calling for a coup.

Since Lula defeated Bolsonaro by less than two points in elections in October, followers of the far-right leader have been camping at the gates of the army headquarters in Brasilia to demand a coup d’état to prevent the handover of power.

Similar demonstrations, condemned by many as “anti-democratic,” have been held near military barracks in other cities, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Bolsonaro supporters also erected road blocks on several national highways to protest the result of the second round of the election on October 30 and call for the army to step in and stop the transition to Lula.

Hours before Monday’s riots in the Brazilian capital, Bolsonaro encouraged hundreds of his followers who were gathered in front of his official residence and who have also been calling for a month for a military “intervention” against Lula.

The protests were on the same day that Lula received the certificate accrediting him as the winner of the October elections.

Lula won with 50.9% of the votes, compared to 49.1% for Bolsonaro, who has not publicly acknowledged his defeat, although he has allowed the start of the transition.

Lula, whose inauguration is due to take place on January 1 in Brasilia, did not comment on the riots on Tuesday, focusing instead on the work being done in the transition process.

“Today I will receive the reports of the working groups (of the transition) and I will thank the voluntary work of hundreds of specialists, who analyzed the situation left by the current government and the challenges of the first days of 2023,” the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) said on Twitter.

The riots were condemned by several authorities, including the president of the National Congress, Senator Rodrigo Pacheco.

“The acts of vandalism in Brazil, made by a rabid minority, are outrageous. The depredation of public and private property, as well as the blocking of roads, only serve to intensify the scenario of intolerance that permeated part of the electoral campaign,” Pacheco said on social media.

“The public security forces must act to repress unjustified violence with the intention of reestablishing order and tranquility that all of us need to take the country forward,” he said. EFE


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