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Brazilian police interrogate Bolsonaro’s supporters over the government building riot

Brazilian police send vehicle reinforcements from the National Academy of Federal Police after demolishing demonstrator camps (January 10, 2023)
Brazilian police send vehicle reinforcements from the National Academy of Federal Police after demolishing demonstrator camps (January 10, 2023)

Brazilian police interrogated about 1,000 supporters of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro held there in a stadium in the capital, Brasilia, on Tuesday.

They are investigating an anti-government riot over the weekend against new President Lula.

The detainees had been in a camp in Brasilia that had been dismantled by the army on Monday, and thousands of demonstrators stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court, and presidential palace a day earlier.

Protesters are demanding a military coup to overturn the October election results.

In his speech, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes vowed to fight “terrorists” in Brasilia. About 200 demonstrators were arrested and held in a penal facility.

Speaking at the announcement of the new head of the Federal Police, Morais said, “Democracy will triumph and the Brazilian government will not yield.”

Protesters locked up in the stadium slept on the ground, some wrapped in Brazilian flags. Some complained to a Reuters reporter that they were being held indefinitely and eating poorly. Social media videos show them singing and taking selfies.

President Lula, who took office on New Year’s Day, met Monday night with the head of the Supreme Court, congressional leaders, and governors to show national unity and condemn the riots. They inspected the Supreme Court building, which had been badly damaged by rioters.

Bolsonaro, who is now in Orlando, Florida, was hospitalized Monday with abdominal pain. Doctors say he has an intestinal obstruction, which is not severe and may not require surgery.

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Bolsonaro has been hospitalized several times since he was narrowly assassinated in the 2018 campaign.

Bolsonaro told CNN on Tuesday that he may cut short his stay in the United States and return to Brazil by the end of the month because of medical problems.

Some Democratic lawmakers in the United States have asked the United States to return Bolsonaro to Brazil.

Rep. Joaquin Castro said, “The United States should not be a haven for this dictator, who inspired domestic terrorism in Brazil.” 

The White House said Monday it had received no request from the Brazilian government about Bolsonaro.

These supporters are trying to reinstate Bolsonaro as president or overthrow the newly inaugurated Lula.

Bolsonaro denied inciting supporters, saying the insurgents had “crossed the line.”

Lula vowed to bring the rioters to justice and pledged to punish police who failed to stop the protesters.

“All perpetrators will be found and punished,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Sunday that the riots in Brazil were “intolerable.”

In a joint statement Monday in Mexico City with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Biden said, “We support Brazil in protecting democracy,” and “Our government supports the free will of the Brazilian people.” We look forward to working with President Lula to defend the interests of our country, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond.

In response to the media question in Mexico City, National Security Adviser Sullivan said, “Brazil’s freely elected leaders will govern Brazil and will not be deterred or interfered with by these people who attack the institutions of government in Brasilia.”

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“I am shocked by this, but I must say to you that I believe in Brazil, in the Brazilian government, in Brazil in sufficient accountability, in the democratic function of Brazil.”

(Part of this article is based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters.)

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