And the farcical “coup” of Jan 8 may well give Lula the impetus he needs to overcome opposition at home and rebuild ties with Brazil’s regional neighbors.
As most NC readers no doubt know by now, the state of Florida is playing host to Brazil’s former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who looked on from afar on Sunday as hundreds of his supporters stormed Brazil’s three most important government buildings. Many had been bussed in to the capital from towns and cities across the country. Some had spent weeks camping out in front of the barracks in Brasilia begging for the army to break with democracy and stage a military coup while they planned their capitol invasion.
It didn’t quite work out that way: by Tuesday night, 1,500 of the demonstrators had been arrested, some of them by the army, and the camp dismantled.
Amazingly, the Bolsonaro supporters’ invasion of Brasilia’s Congress, presidential palace and supreme court building appears to have been modelled upon the failed so-called DC “insurrection” of Jan 6, 2020. Just as in Washington DC, thousands of demonstrators marched through the center of the capital accompanied by an incredibly laissez-faire federal police force. Once the demonstrators reached the Square of the Three Powers (Praça dos Três Poderes), the officers guarding the three government institutions were overwhelmed with disarming ease.
But there also appear to be important differences between the insurgencies of DC and Brasilia:
- The protests in Brazil targeted all three of the country’s most important government buildings, the presidential palace, Congress and the supreme court building, whereas the Jan 6 “insurrection” exclusively targeted the Capitol.
- It being a Sunday, neither Brazil’s Congress nor the Supreme Court were sitting, while Brazil’s recently reelected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, was out of town.
- Nobody died in the storming of Brasilia, whereas in DC at least seven people lost their lives in connection with the Jan 6 attack.
It is hard to imagine any of Sunday’s events going down without the prior knowledge, involvement and participation of at least some of the local security forces as well as the local governor and his security chief (more on them later). After all, thousands Bolsonaro supporters were able to march five miles unimpeded to the Praça dos Três Poderes, then enter the buildings and lay waste to their contents. As the Brazil Report notes, Brasilia was designed and built to make this sort of assault all but impossible.
As all this was happening, Lula was visiting Araraquara, a city in the state of São Paulo, to inspect flood-hit areas there. From there, his team issue a tweet laying much of the blame for the chaos in Brasilia on Bolsonaro:
[The insurrectionists] took advantage of the silence of Sunday, to do what they did. And you all know there are various statements from the former president encouraging this. And that is also his responsibility as well as that of the parties that supported him.
Lula immediately signed an emergency decree, in effect until Jan. 31, allowing the federal government to oversee security in the area instead of local officials. Within a few hours of the decree’s signing, the buildings were evacuated and order was restored.
Lula also lambasted the local security forces for their role in the debacle. “You will see in the images that [police officers] are guiding people on the walk to Praça dos Três Poderes,” Lula said in a conference. “We are going to find out who the financiers of these vandals who went to Brasilia are, and they will all pay with the force of law.”
For Lula, Sunday’s riots could be the perfect parting gift from Bolsonaro…
Read the full article on Naked Capitalism