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World leaders condemn Brazil riots & anti-democratic protests

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said on Tuesday the country must firmly combat “terrorism” and “anti-democratic people.

After thousands of supporters of the ousted right-wing former president, Jair Bolsonaro, invaded the Plaza of the Three Powers – the heart of government in the country’s capital – on Sunday, 8 January, rushing into the presidential Planalto palace as well as the national congress and federal supreme court buildings, world leaders also condemned the riots.

World leaders who condemned it

Joe Biden says the situation in Brazil is ‘outrageous’.  “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,” Biden said on Twitter.  Other world leaders also echoed his statement.

Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, called the storming of Brazil’s institutions a “cowardly and vile attack on democracy”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said: “Deeply concerned about the news of rioting and vandalism against the State institutions in Brasilia. Democratic traditions must be respected by everyone. We extend our full support to the Brazilian authorities. @LulaOficial.”  India is the world’s largest democracy.

Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, said: “Fascism has decided to stage a coup … It is urgent for the OAS [Organization of American States] to meet if it wants to continue to live as an institution.”

The Argentinian president, Alberto Fernández, tweeted that he committed his country’s “unconditional support for @LulaOficial in the face of this attempted coup he is facing”.

Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, said he rejected “the violence generated by Bolsonaro’s neo-fascist groups which have assaulted Brazil’s democratic institutions. Our support for @LulaOficial and the Brazilian people who will surely mobilize in defense of peace and their president.”

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, called Brazil “a great democratic country” and said he was confident the “will of the Brazilian people and the country’s institutions” would be respected.

The European Council president, Charles Michel, said Lula had been “democratically elected by millions of Brazilians through fair and free elections”, and condemned “the assault on the democratic institutions of Brazil”.

France’s Emmanuel Macron said Lula could count on his country’s “unwavering support” and that the “will of the Brazilian people and the democratic institutions must be respected”.

The Australian government said it “condemns the attack on Brazil’s congress, supreme court and presidential palace”, which a department of foreign affairs and trade spokesperson said was “unacceptable; democratic institutions and processes must be respected”.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, also offered Lula his full support, adding: “We categorically condemn the assault on the congress of Brazil and call for an immediate return to democratic normality.”

Italy’s far-right prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said the scenes from Brazil were “incompatible with any form of democratic dissent”.

Portugal’s foreign minister, João Gomes Cravinho, claimed much of the responsibility rested with Bolsonaro and said “it would be very important if he had a message of condemnation in the face of the disorder that is currently happening in Brasília”.

Human Rights Watch blamed the attack on a “years-long campaign by former president Jair Bolsonaro and his allies to undermine democratic principles and spread baseless claims of electoral fraud”. The organization released a statement calling the storming “an abhorrent attack on Brazil’s democratic institutions by people who are seeking to deny the right of Brazilians to vote for and elect the leaders of their choice, including by urging military intervention”

Policemen and journalists covering the riot were injured and weapons were stolen from the presidential security office. The bill for damage to public buildings, works of art and colonial-era furniture is likely to run into millions of reals.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes said on Tuesday the country must firmly combat “terrorism” and “anti-democratic people attempting a coup” after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brasilia earlier this week.

“Democracy will prevail and Brazilian institutions will not bend,” said Moraes, who leads a probe into anti-democratic protests that have already yielded several arrests.  While hundreds of rioters have already been arrested, the state governor of the federal district has been suspended for his sluggish and ineffective response.

The rioting was seen as similar to the storming of the US capitol in 2021. Academics, judges, journalists, and politicians had all warned about its possibility.

This occurred because most of Bolsonaro’s supporters had not accepted the result of last October’s election and were openly discussing an attempt to seize back power. The US Capitol attack was constantly held up as a warning saga.

The riots had varying degrees of support from various sections of Brazil’s political right wing. This included businessmen, landowners, some of the media, and – in the most striking difference to the US – members of the armed forces and police.

Units of the army appear to have been involved. For months, anti-democratic groups have been allowed to set up camps around army barracks, which, on some occasions, have even defended the protesters against the intervention of state and municipal security forces.

The army should also have been responsible for protecting the presidential palace but was not deployed on Sunday until the rioters had already invaded the complex.

The military police too, who are responsible for patrolling assigned areas, also appear to have been supportive of the rioters. Police officers were seen taking pictures with rioters and there were reports that the military police even escorted some of them to the Plaza of the Three Powers.

Some media organizations, journalists, and commentators have been accused and encouraged of defending the anti-democratic riot, notoriously the right-wing Jovem Pan and some of its contributors. But most journalists have been inflexible in their support for democracy and the rule of law.

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