Supporters of Brazil’s far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro have stormed the country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential office to call for the newly elected president, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva – also known as Lula – to resign.
The attack was reminiscent of supporters of former US president Donald Trump storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Bolsonaro, who was defeated by Lula in the election on Oct. 30, has yet to concede defeat.
His supporters have refused to accept his loss and have been camped outside military bases in Brasília, calling for the military to intervene and stop Lula’s inauguration so Bolsonaro could remain in power.
On Sunday Jan. 8, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
At about 6 pm, Bolsonaro’s supporters broke through police barriers and invaded the Congress and Supreme Court buildings and surrounded the presidential office.
They broke windows, toppled furniture and vandalized buildings.
Neither Lula nor Bolsonaro had been in the capital at the time; Lula was on a state trip to Araquara and Bolsonaro was in Florida.
By evening, police regained control of the buildings three hours after the initial invasion.
At least 1,500 people have been arrested, and authorities have launched an investigation into the riot.
Lula has declared a state of emergency until January 31, which will allow the government to implement “any measures necessary” to calm unrest, according to Vox.
Tens of thousands of people have held mass pro-democracy protests calling for punishment for the rioters and those who enabled the attack.
“Whoever did this will be found and punished,” Lula tweeted. “Democracy guarantees the right to free expression, but it also requires people to respect institutions. There is no precedent in the history of the country what they did today. For that they must be punished.”
With 99.97% of the votes counted by the evening of Sunday Oct. 30, da Silva had won by a narrow margin of 50.90% of the votes, with Bolsonaro taking 49.10%.
Bolsonaro has been widely criticized during his four years for accelerating the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and worsening the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left almost 700,000 people dead, according to the New York Times.
His term has also been marked by invasions of Indigenous lands and surging violence against Indigenous people. It was these policies that led a record number of Indigenous women to run in the general election this year in a bid to increase Indigenous representation.
77-year-old da Silva, a former metal worker and union leader, served as president from 2003 to 2010, leaving office with an 80% approval rating.
The election results continues a wave of leftist victories in Latin America since 2018, starting with Mexico and Argentina, followed by Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Chile and Colombia.
Following his election, Lula named two women Amazon activists as his environment and Indigenous ministers.