Lula: Rioters in Brasilia probably had assistance from police and the military

Photo: AFP

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has told the press that the rioters who wrecked the seat of government had likely had assistance from within the government. The re-elected socialist has promised a thorough investigation to unearth the truth behind last weekend's unrest in Brasilia.

This week, security officials continued their clean-up efforts following the startling scenes of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, Lula's far-right predecessor, storming the presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court and causing extensive damage.

Lula told reporters on Thursday that he has ordered a "thorough review" of Planalto Palace employees in the wake of Sunday's violent rebellion and that he is "convinced" that the anti-democratic protestors received support.

The president stated in Brasilia, "I am convinced that the door of the Planalto [presidential] Palace was opened for people to enter because there are no broken doors,"

"This means that someone facilitated their entry," the president said, pointing the finger at "conniving agents" from the Brazilian Police and Armed Forces.

In response to the violent reaction of so-called "bolsonaristas" to his new presidential term, Lula stated, "from now on, we will be tougher, more cautious, more prudent."

"The truth is that the palace was full of bolsonaristas, of military personnel, and we want to see if we can correct [the situation], to place career civil servants [in those posts], preferably civilians," Lula stated.

He stated that any "radical bolsonarista" found to be still employed by the government would be disciplined, citing media reports of purported threats made by officials from the previous administration.

"How can I have a person outside my office who might shoot me?" asked the president, who narrowly defeated his opponent in an October election that followed a bitter campaign.

In the meantime, Human Rights Watch encouraged the authorities to "thoroughly investigate all those who have incited, financed, or committed acts of violence in an attempt to negate election results."

In a statement, it added that Lula "should respond to the unprecedented assault on January 8 by strengthening democratic principles, upholding the rule of law, and tackling chronic human rights problems that were made worse during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro."

On Sunday, pro-Bolsonaro protesters ransacked government offices, destroyed expensive works of art, and left graffiti asking for a military coup. The extent of the damage has to be determined.

'Under pressure'

The investigation into security failures and the identification of the masterminds and financiers of the rioters continues.

The Brazilian Attorney General's Office stated on Thursday that it had identified 52 individuals and seven businesses suspected of helping fund the rebellion.

According to the national television network TV Globo, the suspects included agriculture leaders who supported Bolsonaro. They are believed to have funded the meals and transportation of approximately 100 passenger buses carrying rioters from various regions of Brazil to Brasilia.

To avert a recurrence of Sunday's destruction, the security forces were placed on a war footing in Brasilia and other towns on Wednesday in response to warnings of further protests.

But the expected mass mobilization to "take back power" from Lula and his leftist government never materialized, leaving riot police maintaining a security ring around the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia while twiddling their thumbs.

According to a survey published by the Datafolha institute on Wednesday, Ninety-three percent of Brazilians opposed Sunday's violent revolt. However, a study conducted by Atlas Intelligence found that one in five backed the rioters.

The arrest of nearly 2,000 and ongoing incarceration of more than 1,100 rioters, along with the heavy security deployment, looked to dissuade a resurgence of mobilization.

According to political scientist Guilherme Casaroes of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, many were dissuaded "for fear of being arrested"

According to Geraldo Monteiro of Rio de Janeiro's Federal University, "the Bolsonaro movement is under pressure and does not have the organization for a counter-offensive."

Following the attacks on Brazil's democratic symbols, Lula's position was bolstered by the public support of congressional leaders and governors, some of whom supported Bolsonaro.

In the meantime, efforts continue to hunt down more individuals involved, with security cameras and self-posted pictures helping to identify potential rioters.

Heads rolling

Additionally, high-level heads have been rolling: Anderson Torres, a justice minister under Bolsonaro who oversaw security in Brasilia during the riots, is anticipated to be arrested in the following days. Torres served as Brasilia's security commander at the time of the unrest.

Since then, he has been sacked, and he is likely to return to Brazil on Friday from a vacation in the United States to face accusations of complicity with the rioters.

The head of the military police in Brasilia and the region governor have also lost their jobs.

Publish : 2023-01-13 12:14:00

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