A week after Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, also known as Lula, was inaugurated as Brazil's new president, supporters of populist former president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the nation's Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace on Sunday.
Numerous Bolsonaro supporters smashed over police barriers to get access to the Congress and Supreme Court buildings. The Bolsonaristas, Bolsonaro's followers, also encircled the presidential palace, demanding Lula's resignation even though he was away from the capital, Brasilia, on a state visit to Araquara. Additionally, Congress was in session, thus the facility was mostly deserted.
At 4 p.m. ET, Lula officially announced that he would issue an emergency decree that would last until January 31 and permit the federal authorities to use "whatever means required" to put an end to the disturbance in the capital.
When we were still forming the administration on Sunday, "They took advantage of the stillness to accomplish what they did," Lula's account tweeted on that day. "And as you are aware, the previous president has made multiple remarks that support this. Additionally, he bears responsibility for this together with others who assisted him.
On Sunday afternoon, videos of Bolsonaristas sitting at legislators' desks while wearing yellow flags circulated on Twitter, evoking memories of the followers of former US President Donald Trump storming the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Protesters looted gifts from foreign dignitaries, set fire to a carpet in the lower house of Congress, smashed windows in the Supreme Court building, flew the Brazilian imperial flag over the Congress building, and reportedly attacked a photojournalist from the news organization Metropoles throughout the afternoon.
Tear gas was first deployed by police at the capital to disperse the protestors, but it was ineffective, leading the guards to take refuge behind the building. The Bolsonaristas are still inside the federal buildings as of the time of this writing, despite the mobilization of the Brazilian Armed Forces, anti-riot police, and the full Brasilia state police force.
By 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, several army officers had arrived on the scene, some of whom stormed the presidential offices. Two helicopters also hovered above the presidential offices, with officers inside firing tear gas canisters and anti-riot weapons, according to New York Times reporter André Spigariol.
The Bolsonaristas are motivated by the conviction that the elections in Brazil in 2022 were stolen and that Bolsonaro is the actual victor, much like the rioters who stormed the US Capitol almost two years ago. Since Lula's inauguration on January 1, 2023, Bolsonaro has been in the US but hasn't made any official comments on the predicament.
Lula returned to power after serving time in jail on corruption-related charges when he defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff election in October. From 2003 until 2010, Lula, a former left-wing president of Brazil, was in office. He strengthened the nation's social programs, which enabled millions of Brazilians to live better lives. From 2018 until 2021, he was incarcerated.
Bolsonaro often hinted at a rigged or unfair election, and he told his supporters to "go to battle" if Lula "stole" the vote. Bolsonaro's followers were demonstrating, camped out outside military installations, and begging the armed forces to intervene and stop Lula from taking office even before Lula won the second round of elections.
Other protests featured road and highway blockades, including those by semi-truck drivers, in response to Bolsonaro posting a video of himself operating a tractor, a semi, and a bus, which some of his followers took as encouraging.
Lula tweeted, "Whoever did this will be caught and punished." The right to free speech is guaranteed by democracy, but it also calls for institutional respect. What they accomplished today has never happened before in the history of the nation. They need to be punished for that.