BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazilian security forces locked down the area around Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court yesterday, a day after supporters of ex-president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the seat of power in riots that triggered an international outcry.
In stunning scenes reminiscent of the January 6, 2021 invasion of the United States (US) Capitol building by supporters of then-president Donald Trump, backers of Bolsonaro broke through police cordons and overran the seats of power in Brasilia, smashing windows and doors and ransacking offices.
Initially overwhelmed security forces used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to fight back the rioters until they finally subdued them.
Newly inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the veteran leftist who narrowly won Brazil’s bitter, divisive October elections, condemned the invasions as a “fascist” attack.
The far-right Bolsonaro meanwhile condemned “pillaging and invasions of public buildings” in a tweet.
But the politician dubbed the “Tropical Trump” rejected Lula’s claim he incited the attacks, and defended the right to “peaceful protests”.
Lula, who was in the southeastern city of Araraquara visiting a region hit by severe floods, signed a decree declaring a federal intervention in Brasilia, giving his government special powers over the local police force to restore law and order in the capital.
“These fascist fanatics have done something never before seen in this country’s history,” said Lula, 77, who took office a week ago.
“We will find out who these vandals are, and they will be brought down with the full force of the law.”
Police have made 170 arrests, media reports said.
The Senate security service said it had arrested 30 people in the chamber.