Brazil Police Clear Camp of Pro-Bolsonaro Protesters, Over 1,200 Arrested

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
January 9, 2023Americas
Brazil Police Clear Camp of Pro-Bolsonaro Protesters, Over 1,200 Arrested
A demonstrator is escorted away as a camp by supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro that had been set up in front of the Army headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, is being dismantled on Jan. 9, 2023, a day after backers of the ex-president breached the Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court. (Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images)

Police in Brazil surrounded and began clearing a camp of protesters who back former President Jair Bolsonaro in the capital on Monday, with local media reporting over a thousand arrests as the country’s Supreme Court ordered the immediate dismantling of pro-Bolsonaro camps after protesters stormed government buildings over the weekend.

At least 1,200 people have been arrested at a makeshift camp outside the army headquarters in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and authorities are using dozens of buses to transport the detainees to police headquarters, according to The Brazilian Report.

Members of the Brazilian military were seen dismantling tents set up by pro-Bolsonaro supporters—as well as the demonstrators themselves—at the encampment ahead of a 12-noon local time deadline set by authorities for the protesters to leave.

NTD Photo
A demonstrator reacts next to members of security forces as supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro leave a camp outside the Army Headquarters, in Brasilia, Brazil, on Jan. 9, 2023. (REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli)

Thousands of people believed to be Bolsonaro supporters breached Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace on Jan. 8, prompting a massive police response.

The governor of Brasília told Reuters that all security forces had been activated to confront the protesters.

Ibaneis Rocha, governor of the Federal District, wrote on Twitter that he had fired the district security chief and “put all the security forces on the streets, with the determination to arrest and punish those responsible.”

Police retook the public buildings after around three hours and dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

supporter of Bolsonaro
Security forces detain a supporter of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro during a demonstration against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, on Dec. 8, 2023. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

In the wake of the incident, Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the immediate dismantling of pro-Bolsonaro encampments that sprang up after the Oct. 30, 2022, runoff election that saw Bolsonaro narrowly lose out to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a socialist.

Lula was sworn in as the country’s president on Jan. 1 and on Monday held a cabinet meeting inside the presidential palace that a day earlier was overrun with protesters.

Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the “total eviction and dissolution” of pro-Bolsonaro camps set up in front of the Brazilian army headquarters in the capital and in front of army garrisons in major cities across the country.

The high court also ordered that protesters be arrested.

Demonstrators invade the National Congress in Brasilia on Jan. 8, 2023. (Sergio Lima/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Indignation And a Sense of Injustice’

Bolsonaro has not conceded defeat to Lula, but the former president in November authorized his chief of staff to begin a transition and has said he would abide by Brazil’s constitution.

Mass protests have gripped Brazil since the runoff, with Bolsonaro’s supporters casting doubt on the authenticity of the election results and demanding that the military intervene.

While Bolsonaro has not directly claimed fraud in the election, he said in November the protests were the fruit of “indignation and a sense of injustice.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro makes a statement at Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Nov. 1, 2022. (Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images)

Bolsonaro condemned the Jan. 8 breaches of government buildings, saying in a series of posts on Twitter that peaceful demonstrations that take place within the bounds of the law “are part of democracy” but that “invasions of public buildings” are a step too far.

Lula, who was on a trip to Brazil’s most populous state Sao Paulo when the government buildings were breached, declared a “federal security intervention” until the end of January.

“All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished,” he said at a press conference.

NTD Photo
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during his government’s first cabinet meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on Jan. 6, 2023. (Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images)

Lula blamed Bolsonaro for the incident, saying in a series of posts on Twitter that Bolsonaro gave several speeches “encouraging this” and that the breaches are “also his responsibility and the parties that supported him.”

Bolsonaro pushed back on Lula’s claim.

“I repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current head of the executive of Brazil,” Bolsonaro said on Twitter.

“Throughout my mandate, I have always been within the four lines of the Constitution, respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency, and our sacred freedom.”

Another part of the order issued by Brazil’s Supreme Court was to hand a 90-day suspension to Brasilia Gov. Ibaneis Rocha on Sunday, based on claims that local law enforcement under his command failed to respond to threats from the pro-Bolsonaro protesters.

Authorities Seek to Punish Pro-Bolsonaro Protesters

In a news conference late Sunday, Brazil’s minister of institutional relations said the buildings that were breached would be inspected for evidence, including fingerprints and images, to hold people to account.

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.”

In a news conference from Sao Paulo state, Lula read a freshly signed decree for the federal government to assume control of security in the federal district. He said that the protesters, who he labeled as “fascist fanatics,” as well as those who financed their activities, must be punished.

Lula also said at his news conference there was “incompetence or bad faith” on the part of police, and he promised that some of them would also face punishment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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