Brazil plans to prosecute Bolsonaro supporters who stormed federal buildings

The demonstrators, who are supporters of the former president, entered facilities hosting the South American nation's legislative and executive branches. Officials have vowed to prosecute the rioters and have taken some into custody.

Brazil plans to prosecute Bolsonaro supporters who stormed federal buildings
AP Photo/Eraldo Peres
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On Sunday, Brazil announced plans to punish supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed the nation's federal buildings.

The demonstrators, who are supporters of the former president, entered facilities hosting the South American nation's legislative and executive branches. Officials have vowed to prosecute the rioters and have taken some into custody.

"The coup plotters who promoted the destruction of public property in Brasilia are being identified and will be punished," said President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was elected last week after defeating Bolsonaro in the national elections held in October.

Lula, a self-described socialist, won by a margin of 50.9% to 49.1%.

The protests in Brazil come almost exactly two years after supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

Commentators have drawn comparisons between the two events. President Joe Biden has expressed concern over the protests in Brazil and has stated that "Brazil's democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined.”

The rioters, who are supporters of the populist conservative former president, are concerned that Lula will adopt lenient crime policies and move the nation towards a more left-wing ideology.

Lula is also a populist and an icon in Latin America, where his ideology, Lulism, is a popular strand of socialism. In recent months, Bolsonaro supporters have camped in front of military facilities, pleading for authorities to take control of the government.

Military assets were deployed on Sunday to manage the protests. "I come to inform you that more than 400 people have already been arrested and will pay for the crimes committed," said Brazilian Federal District Governor Ibaneis Rocha on Twitter.

"We continue working to identify all the others who participated in these terrorist acts this afternoon in the Federal District. We continue to work to restore order."

Bolsonaro, who is currently residing in Florida and facing investigations in his home country, has claimed that the election results were fraudulent. However, on Sunday he condemned the illegal protests.

"Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy," he said. "However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule."

The alleged treatment of the rioters on January 6, 2021, has also sparked criticism towards the Justice Department in the United States.

Law enforcement agencies faced criticism for their handling of the rioters, who were predominantly right-wing, while seemingly ignoring protests related to the death of George Floyd that caused extensive damage to major American cities months earlier.

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