Brazilian authorities vow swift punishment after Congress stormed

The world is now watching to see how Brazil responds, as Ayshah Tull reports

Brazilian authorities have vowed to punish thousands of ex-President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters who stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace on Sunday.

The protesters were seeking military intervention to either restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power or oust the newly inaugurated leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was not in Brasília, the capital, at the time of the attack.

In scenes compared to the January 6 Capitol riots, invaders threw furniture through the windows of the presidential palace, using a sprinkler system to flood parts of Congress and ransacked ceremonial rooms in the Supreme Court.

Protestors look from a shattered window after they storm the Planalto Palace in Brasilia. Credit: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Security forces have regained control of Congress in Brasilia, with Brazil's minister of institutional relations saying the buildings would be inspected for evidence, including fingerprints and images, to hold people to account.

On Monday police moved onto a pro-Bolsonaro camp outside a military building and arrested 1,200 people there - this is on top of the 300 arrested on Sunday.

Justice Minister Flávio Dino said the acts amounted to terrorism, adding that authorities have begun tracking those who paid for the buses that transported protesters to the capital.

Repairs have already started. Credit: AP

“They will not succeed in destroying Brazilian democracy. We need to say that fully, with all firmness and conviction,” Mr Dino said.

“We will not accept the path of criminality to carry out political fights in Brazil. A criminal is treated like a criminal.”

A massive cleanup operation has now begun with smashed glass being cleared away and vandalism scrubbed from some of the most important buildings in the country.

Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting against Lula’s electoral win since October 30, blocking roads, setting vehicles on fires and gathering outside military buildings, asking armed forces to intervene.

Protestors stand on the roof of the National Congress building after they stormed it. Credit: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

He had been stoking belief among his hardcore supporters that the electronic voting system was prone to fraud — though he never presented any evidence.

Lula blamed Bolsonaro - who is in the US - for the chaos, as he announced a federal security intervention in Brasilia lasting until January 31.

"These vandals, who we could call... fanatical fascists, did what has never been done in the history of this country," Lula said during an official trip to Sao Paulo state.

"All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished."

Lula walks in Planalto Palace after it was stormed by supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia. Credit: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

US President Joe Biden tweeted that the riots were an “assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil,” and that he looked forward to continue working with Lula.

Rishi Sunak joined international condemnation of scenes in Brazil, tweeting: “I condemn any attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power and the democratic will of the people of Brazil.”

Bolsonaro did not make public comment for nearly six hours about the chaos in Brasilia before posting on Twitter to say that he "repudiates" Lula's accusations against him.

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