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Brazil protests: Security forces detain 1,500 after Congress stormed

About 1,500 people have been arrested in Brazil after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court.

The rioting came a week after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in.

He condemned the “terrorist acts” and vowed to punish the perpetrators.

Mr Bolsonaro has not admitted defeat and flew to the US before the handover ceremony. Unconfirmed reports say he is in hospital in Florida.

Former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and the current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Getty Images)
Former Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and the current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Getty Images)
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The new president – widely known as Lula – and the heads of Congress and the Supreme Court “reject the terrorist acts and criminal, coup-mongering vandalism that occurred” during the riots.

The dramatic scenes saw thousands of protesters clad in yellow Brazil football shirts and flags overrun police and ransack the heart of the Brazilian state.

Lula was forced to declare emergency powers.

On Monday morning, heavily armed officers started dismantling a camp of Mr Bolsonaro’s supporters in Brasilia – one of a number that have been set up outside army barracks around the country since October’s election.

Authorities arrested 1,200 people on Monday – in addition to 300 detained a day earlier.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino said some 40 buses which had been used to transport protesters to the capital had been seized.

Mr Bolsonaro condemned the attack and denied responsibility for encouraging the rioters in a post on Twitter some six hours after violence broke out.

Meanwhile, Brasília governor, Ibaneis Rocha, has been removed from his post for 90 days by the Supreme Court.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes accused him of failing to prevent the riot and of being “painfully silent” in the face of the attack. Mr Rocha has apologised for Sunday’s events.

Video shared by the Brazilian outlet O Globo showed some officers laughing and taking photos together as demonstrators occupied the congressional campus in the background.

Some protesters smashed windows, while others reached the Senate chamber, where they jumped on to seats and used benches as slides.

Protesters had been gathering since the morning on the lawns in front of the parliament and up and down the kilometre of the Esplanada avenue, which is lined with government ministries and national monuments.

Despite the actions of the protesters, in the hours before the chaos, security had appeared tight, with the roads closed for about a block around the parliament area and armed police pairs guarding every entrance into the area.

Demonstrators were quick to defend their actions when approached by reporters.

Lima, a 27-year-old production engineer, said: “We need to re-establish order after this fraudulent election.”

“I’m here for history, for my daughters,” she told AFP news agency.

Others in the capital expressed outrage at the violence and said the attack marked a sad day for the country.

“I voted for Bolsonaro but I don’t agree with what they’re doing,” Daniel Lacerda, 21, told the BBC. “If you don’t agree with the president you should just say it and move on, you shouldn’t go hold protests and commit all the violence like they’re doing.”

And many are drawing comparisons with the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump, an ally of Mr Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro supporters created camps in cities across Brazil, some of them outside the military barracks. That is because his most ardent supporters want the military to intervene and make good elections that they say were stolen.

It looked like their movement had been curbed by Lula’s inauguration – the camps in Brasília had been dismantled and there was no disruption on the day he was sworn in.

But Sunday’s scenes show that those predictions were premature.

Some protesters are not just angry that Bolsonaro lost the election – they want President Lula to return to prison.

He spent 18 months in jail after being found guilty of corruption in 2017. His convictions were later annulled, after initially being sentenced to more than nine years.

Heads of state around the world have also denounced the violence, with the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico issuing a joint statement on Monday condemning “attacks on Brazil’s democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power”.

Colombia, Germany, the UK, China and Turkey are among other countries that have also condemned the rioters’ actions.