Protesters supporting Brazil’s far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro storm Congress, other buildings

Chaos unfolded in Brazil on Sunday as supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the country’s Congress building and other government sites.

In a shocking scene reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters smashed windows and wreaked havoc inside Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace in Brasilia, the country’s capital.

Demonstrators called for the former president to return to office, a week after the inauguration of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in the Oct. 30 election.

The hectic scene occurred when Congress and Supreme Court security was likely limited, with footage appearing to show a lack of authorities present as protesters swarmed the buildings.

Bolsonaro, who held the Brazilian presidency from January 2019 through Dec. 31, 2022, traveled to the U.S. before Lula’s inauguration last week and is living in Florida, where former U.S. President Donald Trump has a home. He hasn’t publicly commented on Sunday’s incidents.

The 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol involved Trump supporters storming the Capitol in Washington to protest the results of the 2020 election, in which President Biden defeated the Republican incumbent.

“Brazilian authorities had two years to learn the lessons from the Capitol invasion and to prepare themselves for something similar in Brazil,” Maurício Santoro, a political science professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said Sunday.

“Local security forces in Brasilia failed in a systematic way to prevent and to respond to extremist actions in the city. And the new federal authorities, such as the ministers of justice and of defense, were not able to act in a decisive way.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday the U.S. “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,” Sullivan said. “Brazil’s democracy will not be shaken by violence.”

With News Wire Services