Bolsonaro Supporters Breach Brazil’s Congress Building, Presidential Palace

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A crowd of protesters broke through security blockades and breached the buildings of the nation’s Congress, Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in Brasilia on Jan. 8, according to videos from local broadcasters and groups related to Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Footage and photographs from the scene showed protesters inside the presidential palace and smashing furniture in Congress and the Supreme Court. The three buildings are linked by the spacious Three Powers Square in Brasilia, the nation’s capital.

Recently-inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula Silva was on a trip to San Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, when the breach occurred.

Mass protests have persisted in Brazile since the outcome of the national election on Oct. 30 last year. Bolsonaro’s supporters doubt the authenticity of the results. They have blockaded major roads across Brazil and demanded that the military step in to intervene.

Lula, a socialist, was declared the winner with 50.9 percent of the vote. Bolsonaro has not publicly conceded, but said in a speech in November that he would abide by the country’s constitution.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Lula blamed Bolsonaro for the riot.

“They took advantage of the silence on Sunday, when we are still setting up the government, to do what they did,” the Brazilian president wrote. “And you know that there are several speeches by the former president encouraging this. And this is also his responsibility and the parties that supported him.”

In a video statement, Lula said all those involved in the riot would be found and prosecuted.

Bolsonaro’s social media channels, and that of his attorney and sons, were silent.

Security forces appeared to have taken control of the Supreme Court and Congress buildings by 5:30 p.m. local time. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters remained in and around the Congress building.

Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida two days prior to the end of his term. In Twitter messages hours prior to the reports of the breach in Brasilia, he wrote about the achievements of his administration.

By Ivan Pentchoukov

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