Supporters of Brazil’s former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday invaded the supreme court, the congress building and surrounded the presidential palace in Brasília, according to television images.
Several thousand protesters broke into the buildings and were seen on television smashing furniture inside the supreme court and the congress. Local media estimated about 3,000 people were involved.
Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday declared a federal security intervention in the capital.
Lula called the rioters “fascists, fanatics” and said they would be punished “with the full force of law”. The federal intervention in Brasília will last until January 31st, he added in a speech.
Lula was far from the capital, on an official trip to Sao Paulo state.
The demonstrators bypassed security barricades, climbed on the roofs, broke windows and invaded all three buildings, which are connected through the vast Three Powers square in the capital.
Some are calling for a military intervention to restore Mr Bolsonaro to power.
Images on TV channel Globo News showed protesters roaming the presidential palace, many of them wearing green and yellow, the colours of the flag that have also come to symbolise the Bolsonaro government.
Many of the protesters dispute the result of the October 30th election in which Lula beat Mr Bolsonaro. The former president repeatedly questioned, without evidence, the credibility of the country’s electronic voting system, and many of his hardcore supporters believe him.
Mr Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before the end of his mandate and was absent from Lula’s inauguration.
Lula’s Workers Party asked the office of the top public prosecutor to order public security forces to act in containing the demonstrators.
The violence echoed the US Capitol invasion two years ago by supporters of former president Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden on Sunday said the situation in Brazil was “outrageous”. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US condemns any effort to undermine democracy in Brazil.
“President Biden is following the situation closely and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering. Brazil’s democracy will not be shaken by violence,” Mr Sullivan said on Twitter.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Twitter that the US joined Lula in calling for an immediate end to the attacks. – Reuters/AP