Two months after the election that saw the defeat of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, his supporters stormed Brazil’s Congress and presidential offices on Sunday to protest what they falsely believe was a stolen election. It was the violent culmination of incessant rhetorical attacks by Mr. Bolsonaro and his supporters against the nation’s electoral systems.
Thousands of protesters ascended a ramp to the roof of the congressional building in Brasília, the capital, while a smaller group invaded the building from a lower level, according to witnesses and videos of the scene posted on social media.
🚨URGENTE: Bolsonaristas arrancam policial do cavalo, dão socos e pontapés. pic.twitter.com/5FRCr2xzfp
— CHOQUEI (@choquei) January 8, 2023
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Mr. Bolsonaro in October and took office on Jan. 1, was in São Paulo, and Congress was not in session. Both Congress and the presidential offices were largely empty on Sunday.
Thousands of protesters stood and shouted from atop the Congress building, in view of thousands more running over toppled fences to get to the presidential offices. Protesters complained of tear gas, while security guards stationed at Congress took cover behind the building.
The invasions capped months of protests by supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro, who have been camped outside military bases across the country, and had called on the armed forces to take control of the government and halt the inauguration of Mr. Lula.
Security in the area had been the responsibility of Anderson Torres, security secretary of the federal district. Torres, a staunch ally of Jair Bolsonaro, had just been fired by Ibaneis Rocha, the governor of the federal district. Torres was Jair Bolsonaro’s minister of justice from March 2021 until the end of his term.