(BBC News) Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has vowed to punish supporters of the country’s ex-leader, Jair Bolsonaro, after they stormed Congress.
Supporters of the ousted far-right leader also stormed the Supreme Court and surrounded the presidential palace.
But police regained control of the buildings in the capital Brasilia on Sunday evening after hours of clashes.
Arriving in the city, Lula toured the Supreme Court building to assess the damage.
Justice Minister Flavio Dino told local media that some 200 people had already been arrested.
The dramatic scenes – which saw thousands of protesters clad in yellow Brazil football shirts and flags overrun police and ransack the heart of the Brazilian state – come just a week after Lula’s inauguration.
The veteran left-wing leader declared emergency powers before dispatching the national guard into the capital to restore order.
He has ordered the closure of the centre of the capital – including the main avenue where governmental buildings are located – for 24 hours.
Dino said some 40 buses that had been used to transport protesters to the capital had been seized, and he called the invasion an “absurd attempt to impose (the protesters’) will by force.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly refused to accept that he lost October’s election, and last week left the country instead of taking part in inaugural ceremonies, which would have seen him hand over the iconic presidential sash.
The 67-year-old, believed to be in Florida, condemned the attack and denied responsibility for encouraging the rioters in a post on Twitter some six hours after violence broke out.
Speaking before he arrived in Brasilia, Lula said there was “no precedent in the history of our country” for the scenes seen in Brasilia and called the violence the “acts of vandals and fascists.”
He took aim at security forces whom he accused of “incompetence, bad faith, or malice” in the failure to stop demonstrators accessing Congress.
“You will see in the images that they [police officers] are guiding people on the walk to Praca dos Tres Powers,” he said. “We are going to find out who the financiers of these vandals who went to Brasilia are, and they will all pay with the force of law.”
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.
U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted: “I condemn the assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined.”
Some protesters smashed windows, while others reached the Senate chamber, where they jumped on to seats and used benches as slides.
Videos on social media show protesters pulling a policeman from his horse and attacking him outside the building.
Footage broadcast by national media show police detaining dozens of protesters in their yellow jerseys outside the presidential palace.
Other suspects – whose hands were bound behind their backs – are also seen being led out of the building.
Protesters had been gathering since 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.
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. The BBC had seen about 50 police officers around on Sunday morning local time and cars were turned away at entry points, while those entering on foot were frisked by police checking bags.Many are drawing comparisons with the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by supporters of Donald Trump, an ally of 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 Brasilia 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.
Leaders from Latin America have condemned the violence:
- Chilean President Gabriel Boric said Brazil had his country’s “full support in the face of this cowardly and vile attack on democracy.”
- Colombian President Gustavo Petro said “fascism decided to stage a coup”.
- Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico expressed “full support for President Lula’s administration, elected by popular will.”
And French President Emmanuel Macron said the “will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions must be respected,” and pledged the “unfailing support of France” to Lula.