Brazil authorities seek to punish pro-Bolsonaro rioters

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Brazilian authorities were picking up pieces and investigating Monday after thousands of ex-President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential palace then trashed the nation’s highest seats of power.

The protesters were seeking military intervention to either restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power or oust the newly inaugurated leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in scenes of chaos and destruction reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday condemned the storming of key government buildings in Brazil by supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro, saying the coordinated invasion represented an attack on democracy and cannot be tolerated.

“The violent attacks on democratic institutions are an attack on democracy that cannot be tolerated,” said Scholz in a tweet, adding that Germany stood behind Brazil’s current president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Rioters donning the green and yellow of the national flag on Sunday broke windows, toppled furniture, hurled computers and printers to the ground. They punctured a massive Emiliano Di Cavalcanti painting in five places, overturned the U-shaped table at which Supreme Court justices convene, ripped a door off one justice’s office and vandalized an iconic statue outside the court. The monumental buildings’ interiors were left in states of ruin.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday he condemned any attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power and the democratic will of the people of Brazil, after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro ransacked government buildings.

Sunak said on Twitter that Brazil’s new leader President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his government “has the United Kingdom’s full support.”

In a news conference late Sunday, Brazil’s minister of institutional relations said the buildings would be inspected for evidence including fingerprints and images to hold people to account, and that the rioters apparently intended to spark similar such actions nationwide. Justice Minister Flávio Dino said the acts amounted to terrorism and coup-mongering and that authorities have begun tracking those who paid for the buses that transported protesters to the capital.

“They will not succeed in destroying Brazilian democracy. We need to say that fully, with all firmness and conviction,” Dino said. “We will not accept the path of criminality to carry out political fights in Brazil. A criminal is treated like a criminal.” So far, 300 people have been arrested, the federal district’s civil police said on Twitter. China Monday said it “firmly opposes the violent attack” on government buildings in the Brazilian capital, after hundreds of supporters of ex-president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court.—Agencies