Right Wing terrorists storm the Brazilian Capitol

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Right-wing, antidemocratic supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro illegally stormed three key federal buildings on Sunday, January 8th.  Claiming dissatisfaction with the results of the elections and various conspiracies, over a thousand rioters participated in the terrorist activities.

screen cap via La Vanguardia

On Sunday afternoon, supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, who left the country before the inauguration of the new president, invaded the era of the National Congress, the Presidential Palace, and the Federal Supreme Court. Lula condemned the coup and terrorist acts, decreeing federal intervention in the public safety of the DF to contain the invaders.

The invasion began after a safety barrier set up by military police was broken. The National Congress was the first to be invaded, with the rioters occupying the main entrance and damaging the exterior of the building. Next, they shattered the glass walls of the Congressional building and vandalized the House plenary space.

After destroying the Congressional building, they invaded the Presidential Palace and the Federal Supreme Court (STF). In the Supreme Court, they broke glass and furniture, defecated on the walls and carpet and vandalized federal archival material.

Images circulating on social media show that the military police force who were in the vicinity of the National Congress passively used pepper sprays in an unsuccessful attempt to contain the protesters. Some of the police actually escorted and cheered on the terrorist mob. 

Via social networks, the Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, said that “this absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail”. He added that he had heard from the government of the Federal District that the staff would be strengthened. “The forces we have are acting. I am at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice,” wrote the minister.

Former Minister of Justice of the Bolsonaro government and current Secretary of Public Security of the Government of the Federal District, Anderson Torres, who is in the United States, said, via Twitter, to have determined to the operations sector “immediate action for the restoration of order in the center of Brasilia”.

In addition to a trail of destruction, the rioters committed massive amounts of theft. Ironically, parts of the mob were recorded chanting, “Lula the thief, belongs in prison” as they marched to the federal buildings- referring to the certified election of Lula da Silva. Although the advisory offices of the three federal bodies inform the press that there is still no inventory of everything that has been stolen, it is clear that the looters made off with priceless artifacts. 

The office of the Secretariat of Social Communication reported that weapons and ammunition were stolen from the federal buildings. Official gifts from heads of state and foreign delegations disappeared from the National Congress. Works of art were stolen from the Chamber of Deputies. Rioters even stole a replica of the original document of the Federal Constitution of 1988 from the Supreme Court. Documents, furniture, electronic equipment and food ended up being stolen from the three branches of government. Videos recorded during the invasion show terrorists carrying objects out of buildings as if carrying the spoils of war. 

I asked Afro-Brazilian historian Luciana da Cruz Brito what people throughout the Black diaspora should know about these events, which mirror the January 6th right-wing insurrection of two years ago in Washington, DC:

“Black people throughout the diaspora should know that the white supremacist project that prevails in the USA also exists in Brazil. This is reflected in the political projects of white men and women who reject the guarantee of rights and citizenship for all people who act differently from themselves. In addition to this state of hierarchy and racial privilege, what we saw with the lack of police action yesterday in Brasilia reflects the selectivity of violence, the collaboration on the part of many police officers with the terrorists’ project, attitudes that are very different from the protocol that police officers use when they enter the Black and poor communities, in the way they interact with black men and women… In short, a racial contradiction which  African-Americans and others know very well.”

Shortly after the riots began, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva decreed, during a live announcement, the use of federal intervention response to the invasion. Lula called the invaders “true vandals, who destroyed what they saw ahead. We could call them fanatical fascists, because they did what has never been done in the history of this country.” 

He also stated that not even during the so-called armed struggles in Brazil were invasions and attacks against public property had been made in the country. “We will find out who are the financiers of these vandals who went to Brasilia and all of them will pay with the force of the law,” he said during the statement.

According to the decree read live by the president, the objective of the action is to “end the serious compromise of public order.” The decree appoints Ricardo Garcia Cappelli to the position of the intervenor.

“The intervenor answers to the President of the Republic and is not subject to the district rules that conflict with the measures necessary for the execution of the intervention,” says the decree.

The intervention will be led by the executive secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Ricardo Cappelli, directly subordinate to the Presidency of the Republic. “The intervenor may request financial, technological and structural resources necessary from any agencies,” Lula added.

Over 1200 rioters have been detained or arrested. 

International leaders from several countries, including Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain, France, USA, Ecuador and others, condemned the attack o the Brazilian federal government and sympathized with President da Silva.

Colombia

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, sympathized with Lula and said on Twitter that “the OAS meeting is urgent if she wants to continue living as an institution and apply the democratic charter. Fascism decides to strike a blow,” he said.

Argentina

Similar arguments were expressed by the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández. “We are together with the Brazilian people to defend democracy and not allow #NeverMore to return the coup ghosts that the right promotes,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We will demonstrate with firmness and unity our full adherence to the government democratically elected by the Brazilians headed by President @LulaOficial,” he continued.

Chile

Meanwhile, the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, agreed with Petro and announced the initiative to promote an urgent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) to deal with the case.

“We are promoting together with other countries the convening of an extraordinary session of the OAS Permanent Council to support democracy and the rule of law in Brazil,” he said on his social networks. “Chile repudiates the unacceptable undemocratic action that attacks the three powers of the Brazilian state,” the president emphasized.

France

Emmanuel Macron, president of France, said that “the will of the Brazilian people and democratic institutions must be respected! President Lula can count on the unwavering support of France.”

USA

President Joe Biden announced:  “The attack on democracy and the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. The democratic institutions of Brazil have all our support and the will of the Brazilian people should not be shaken. I look forward to continuing to work with Lula.”

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, said: “we condemn the attacks on the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court today. Using violence is always unacceptable. We join Lula to ask for the immediate end of these actions.”

Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, said: “we condemn the attacks on the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court today. Using violence is always unacceptable. We join Lula to ask for the immediate end of these actions.”

Mexico

For Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, it was “condeniable and undemocratic the coup attempt of the conservatives in Brazil encouraged by the leaders of the oligarchic power, its spokesmen and fanatics. Lula is not alone, he has the support of the progressive forces of his country, Mexico, the American continent and the world.”

Colombia

Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia, said: “All my solidarity with Lula and the people of Brazil. Fascism decides to attack. The rightists have not been able to maintain the non-violence pact. It is an urgent time for the OAS meeting if it wants to remain alive as an institution and apply the democratic charter.

We proposed to strengthen the inter-American human rights system by applying the current rules and expanding the charter to women’s, environmental and collective rights, but the answer is parliamentary coups or violent coups by the extreme right.”

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