The Brazilian government was tightening its grip on Thursday around the participants, organizers and financiers of Sunday’s riots in Brasilia, which prompted Lula to “deeply reorganize” his security at the presidential palace.
“I am convinced that the door of the Planalto Palace was opened so that people could enter, because no door was broken,” the left-wing leader said during his first breakfast with journalists since his inauguration. January 1st. “It means that someone facilitated their entry here,” insisted Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “How could I have someone at my office door who could shoot me?” he asked.
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More than 4,000 supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro, who reject his late October electoral defeat to Lula, wreaked havoc in the capital on Sunday, invading and ransacking the Presidential Palace, the Supreme Court and the Congress. Some 2,000 people were arrested and more than 1,100 were imprisoned after being questioned, according to the latest report from the authorities.
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And the noose continues to tighten, with many rioters identified through surveillance cameras, press images or selfies they posted on social media. But the priority of the authorities is now to sanction the networks that worked behind the scenes to finance and organize the insurrection.
1.21 million francs in damage
On Thursday, the office of the Advocate-General of the Union (AGU), which defends the interests of the federal state, asked the courts of Brasilia to freeze 6.5 million reais (about 1.21 million francs) of 52 people and seven companies accused of having financed the transport of rioters in a hundred buses that arrived from all over the country on Saturday evening. According to several Brazilian media, a large number of alleged financiers are linked to the agribusiness sector, loyal support of Jair Bolsonaro.
The national heritage suffered considerable damage, offices were ransacked and works of art destroyed. For the two chambers of Congress alone, they amount to more than one million euros, according to the first estimates made public by the government. The Brazilian Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage presented a first damage assessment report on Thursday, including a urine-soaked carpet and a tapestry by Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx.
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“From now on we are going to be tougher, because what happened (this) weekend must not happen again,” said Lula, also announcing “a reshuffle” of the staff working on behalf of the Presidency. “The palace was full of pro-Bolsonaro, military,” he said, intending to replace them with “career officials, preferably civilians.”
Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Tuesday ordered the arrest of Fabio Augusto, the military police commander in Brasilia and Anderson Torres, the far-right leader’s former justice minister and security secretary. the capital at the time of the riots.
Calls for eviction
Anderson Torres is expected to arrive in Brazil on Friday from the United States. The evidence against him should increase, the police having found at his home a proposal for a decree aimed at intervening with the Superior Electoral Court and thus reversing the result of the presidential election in October. Anderson Torres claimed that the minutes were published “out of context” and pleaded innocence to these documents.
Thursday, Lula multiplied the meetings with his ministers, in an apparent concern for a return to normality after the shock of this unprecedented attack on Brazilian democracy since the establishment of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).
In the United States, elected Democrats have called for President Joe Biden to revoke the visa of the former Brazilian president, who is in Florida (south), refusing that the United States serve as a refuge for the former leader. “We must not allow Mr. Bolsonaro or any other former Brazilian official to find refuge in the United States in order to escape justice for any possible crime committed during his mandate”, write these 41 elected officials in an open letter to the President Biden made public on Thursday. They also call on the US government to “cooperate fully with any investigation by the Brazilian government” and to verify the legal status in the United States of the former president, who arrived on American territory as head of state.
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His stay in Florida puts the United States in a relatively embarrassing light, notably evoking previous receptions of controversial Latin American leaders. Asked on Wednesday, the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken declared that the United States had not received any request from Brazil about Jair Bolsonaro, but that he would process such a request “quickly”.