Bolsonaro supporters storm Brazil’s presidential palace

President Lula condemns violent anti-democracy demonstrations and promises punishment

Demonstrators in Brazilian football shirts and carrying flags storm the country's Congress
Brasilia police say they have made 300 arrests following Sunday’s violence
(Image credit: Sergio Lima/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has promised to punish the “vandals” who stormed the country’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace on Sunday.

“In scenes reminiscent of the US Capitol invasion two years ago”, thousands of supporters of former leader Jair Bolsonaro took part in the demonstration, said the Financial Times (FT).

Pictures on social media show “ransacked rooms with damaged furniture, files strewn across the floor and water spraying from fire sprinklers”, said the newspaper. On Twitter, Bolsonaro, who is believed to be in Florida, condemned the violence and vandalism.

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“Security had appeared tight” on Sunday morning, before protesters gathered “on the lawns in front of the parliament” in the capital Brasilia, and along the Esplanada, which is “lined with government ministries and national monuments”, said the BBC.

“Like his erstwhile American counterpart” Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has long voiced doubts over the “integrity” of Brazil’s electronic voting system, said the FT. The former Brazilian president has “repeatedly refused” to accept the results of last October’s election, said the BBC, and broke with convention by not taking part in Lula’s inauguration last week.

Police regained control yesterday evening “after hours of clashes” and “dramatic scenes”, said the BBC. Brasilia’s civil police said they had arrested 300 demonstrators, many of whom were “clad in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag”, said the FT.

Lula has promised to punish the demonstrators, saying: “They will all pay with the force of law for this irresponsible act, this anti-democratic act, this act of vandals and fascists.”

The events are “likely to raise doubts about the security of Brazil’s political and judicial institutions”, said the FT. They present “tough choices for Lula”, who, within days of taking office, “will be under pressure to crack down on Bolsonaro’s radical supporters”.

Joe Biden is also facing “mounting pressure to remove Bolsonaro from his self-imposed exile in suburban Orlando”, said Reuters. Following yesterday’s events, Bolsonaro “may find himself the target of a Supreme Court probe” into the anti-democracy protest.

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Julia O’Driscoll is the engagement editor. She covers UK and world news, as well as writing lifestyle and travel features. She regularly appears on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast, and hosted The Week's short-form documentary podcast, “The Overview”. Julia was previously the content and social media editor at sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, where she interviewed prominent voices in sustainable fashion and climate movements. She has a master's in liberal arts from Bristol University, and spent a year studying at Charles University in Prague.