Bolsonaro responds to Brazil riot charges

Former president said that “peaceful demonstrations” are “part of democracy”

Former Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro has denied any responsibility for the unrest that unfolded in the capital Brasilia on Sunday, after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accused his right-wing predecessor of filling the heads of his supporters with extremism.

“Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule,” Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday evening, after authorities regained control of the government buildings seized by rioters earlier in the day.

“I repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current head of the executive of Brazil,” Bolsonaro added, without mentioning Lula by name. The former leader left Brazil several days before the traditional swearing-in ceremony on January 1 rather than appear to legitimize the leftist’s win by showing up.

Lula blamed what he described as the day’s “unprecedented” violence on his nemesis, promising to make those responsible for the chaos “pay with the force of the law,” and pledging to get to the bottom of “who are the financiers” of the riot.

On Sunday, a large group of Bolsonaro’s supporters marched through the capital in yet another protest, reiterating claims that Brazil’s electronic voting system was open to fraud and other llegations of voting irregularities. After reaching the Three Powers Plaza where all three branches of the government are located, swarms of protesters rushed through barricades and overran Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential Planalto Palace.

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The crows wreaked havoc inside, as authorities struggled to contain the unrest. The president, who was in Sao Paulo at the time, was forced to declare a state of emergency in the Federal District of Brasilia, appointing justice minister Ricardo Garcia Capelli to lead the “federal intervention.”

By Sunday evening, after hours of clashes and hundreds of arrests, riot police managed to regain control of the government buildings using tear-gas and water cannons. The Justice Minister announced that at least 200 people were detained, and warned that the arrests could continue throughout the night, as authorities are trying to identify everyone involved in what he dubbed an act of “terrorism” and an attempted “coup.”

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