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Brazilians Continue Protesting Lula Election

National

Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Planalto Palace in Brazil | Image by Ueslei Marcelino/REUTERS

Supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro protested and clashed with the police after they stormed presidential offices in Brasilia on Sunday.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn into office last week. However, since October 30, Bolsonaro supporters have protested Lula’s election.

They have blocked roads, burned cars, and gathered in front of military headquarters to request military intervention. Many have worn the Brazilian flag’s green and yellow colors.

On Sunday, pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators reportedly bypassed security barricades, climbed roofs, smashed windows, and entered the largely vacant presidential palace, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

Lula accused Bolsonaro of supporting the demonstrations by what he called “fascist zealots.” The president read a recently signed decree authorizing the federal government to take charge of national security.

Bolsonaro denied the president’s accusation late Sunday.

“Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy,” he tweeted. “However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.”

Supreme Court judges’ offices were damaged. Fire hoses were used to spray Congress and presidential palace offices. Every building has damaged windows.

Demonstrators demanded the impeachment of ex-convict Lula or military intervention to reinstate Bolsonaro. Lula was arrested in 2016 for laundering money through Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras to fund campaigns that kept his Workers’ Party in power for 13 years.

Brasilia’s massive Three Powers Square buildings were reclaimed after hours, and hundreds were arrested, led by police with their hands bound down a ramp from the presidential palace. The government reclaimed the buildings by dusk.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino told a news conference that 200 people had been arrested, and more tear gas was being deployed to disperse demonstrators.

At his press conference, Lula said the police were “incompetent or bad-faith,” but the army also protected Bolsonaro supporters, including those who rioted in the capital a few weeks earlier. He claimed that officers involved would be expelled.

Claiming protesters took advantage of personnel shortages to demonstrate, Lula blamed Bolsonaro and his remarks. Lula tweeted on Sunday that he had ordered the administration to put an end to the protests.

“The National Congress has never denied a voice to those who want to demonstrate peacefully,” tweeted Lower House Speaker Arthur Lira. “But it will never give room for turmoil, destruction, and vandalism.”

World leaders and government authorities have decried the protests. “Outrageous,” said President Joe Biden in El Paso, on a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The United States condemns any effort to undermine democracy in Brazil,” Jake Sullivan, White House national security advisor, stated on social media. “President Biden is following the situation closely, and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering. Brazil’s democracy will not be shaken by violence.”

The head of Brazil’s elections board rejected Bolsonaro’s and his party’s request to void the majority of electronic voting machine votes in the fall.

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