Lula orders federal intervention after Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazil’s government offices

By January 8, 2023

São Paulo, Brazil — Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has ordered the intervention of federal security forces on Sunday after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the government compound in Brasília which houses the Supreme Court, Congress and the official office of the president. 

Under Brazilian law, security is the responsibility of individual states. However, with accusations that the Federal District police failed to prevent the invasion of public buildings, Lula ordered a federal intervention in security, which will allow federal security forces into Brasília until January 31.

Rodrigo Garcia Capelli, the executive secretary from the Ministry of Justice, will be in charge of the federal government’s intervention. 

In a short speech, President Lula criticized the “barbarism” in Brasília and called Bolsonaro supporters “fascists.” 

“There was a lack of security in the Federal District. But we are going to identify and punish all those involved,” he said.

Lula also criticized former president Bolsonaro, who has been in the United States since late December and has yet to speak out about Sunday’s violent assault on the government. 

“The genocidal man has always encouraged violence and he also has to be held accountable,” said Lula.

Bolsonaro supporters invaded congress, the federal government building and the Supreme Court. Image courtesy of Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Brasília’s security secretary fired after attacks on government offices 

About two hours after the beginning of the assault on government offices, the governor of the Federal District in Brasília, Ibaneis Rocha, fired security secretary Anderson Torres. 

A chief of the Federal Police, Torres also served as Minister of Justice in Bolsonaro’s government and is being investigated for his alleged inaction against protesters who had been committing acts of violence and vandalism in the country’s capital since Bolsonaro lost the elections to Lula in late October. 

Torres is currently in the United States and spoke via social media moments before his resignation was confirmed. On Twitter, he said that “criminals will not go unpunished.” 

“Disorder is inconceivable and disrespect for institutions is unacceptable,” he said.

Governor Rocha also spoke on social media, hours after the invasions began. He criticized “the anti-democratic riot” in Brasília and said that he had put all the district’s security forces on the streets, determined to arrest and punish those responsible. The governor also requested support from the federal government.

Brazil’s current Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, is at the ministry’s headquarters following the situation closely, according to reports. On social media, Dino said that this “absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail.” 

Federal District police were accused of failing to stop vandalism. Image courtesy of Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Negative repercussions and investigations

Prosecutor General Augusto Auras said he would open an investigation into Sunday’s assault on government offices and hold accountable those involved in the invasion. 

Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco “vehemently” repudiated the anti-democratic acts, “which must urgently undergo the rigor of the law.” The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, criticized what he called “uproar, destruction and vandalism.”

“Those responsible for promoting and covering up this attack on Brazilian democracy and its main symbols must be identified and punished in accordance with the law,” Lira said.