Brazil: Lula continues to purge the military apparatus, blaming Bolsonaro

Brazil: Lula continues to purge the military apparatus, blaming Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Lula on Wednesday continued the purge of the executive branch’s military apparatus, again attacking Jair Bolsonaro, whom he blames for the Jan. 8 riots in Brasilia.

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Thirteen soldiers responsible for security were dismissed, as the Official Journal announced on Wednesday.

This news comes the day after the announcement of the dismissal of 40 soldiers assigned to the Alvorada presidential residence in the capital, where the seats of the presidency, congress and the Supreme Court have been looted by supporters of the ex-leader far-right state.

“I don’t know if the former president (Bolsonaro) ordered the riots,” Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday during a ceremony with unions at the Planalto Palace. “What I do know is that he’s responsible because he spent four years inciting people to hate.”

On the day of the attack, former metalworker and trade unionist Jair Bolsonaro, although he did not identify himself, said he “provoked” and “encouraged” the riots by “talking” while he was in Brazil (2019-22).

The ex-president, who left Brazil for the United States two days before his left-wing successor was inaugurated, denied any involvement while “regretting” these events, which he described as “incredible”. He is being examined.

The soldiers released on Wednesday belonged to the Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI), a government agency responsible for assisting the head of state with his national security and defense policies.

Enter ex-minister

The announcements come a week after Lula, 77, expressed his distrust of some law enforcement officers tasked with his safety.

Last week he announced a “thorough” investigation into palace staff and said he was convinced protesters who entered the presidential palace had received help from inside.

“How could I have someone at my office door who could shoot me?” asked Lula.

More than 4,000 supporters of the former president, who rejects his late October election defeat by Lula, wreaked havoc in Brasilia on January 8, invading and looting the three power centers.

Infrastructure, priceless works of art and furniture that are part of the national heritage were destroyed by the rioters, who left graffiti calling for a military coup.

More than 2,000 people have been arrested after the riot attempt, and 1,382 suspected rioters remained in custody as of Wednesday as investigations continue to try to locate the organizers and their financiers.

The public prosecutor’s office opened formal proceedings against 39 of them on charges of armed criminal organization, criminal damage, violence against the democratic state and incitement to a coup d’état.

Attorney General Augusto Aras announced in a local television interview that another 200 people would be charged over the next two weeks.

Anderson Torres, a former justice minister under Jair Bolsonaro who was responsible for security in Brasilia but was abroad at the time, was arrested on suspicion of collusion on his return to his country.

On Wednesday he appeared before investigators for a first statement, but was silent, according to the news portal G1. He also denies any involvement in the attempted uprising.

Lula also hinted that he will receive Chancellor Olaf Scholz on January 30 and meet Joe Biden in the United States in February.

“For us, democracy is the only way to build a strong nation. So I’m going to speak to Biden to see how he handles it,” the left-leaning president wrote on Twitter.

In an interview with Globo News, he also said he would talk to Mr. Scholz “about what’s happening in Germany because the extreme right is an international movement.”

“In Brazil we won the elections, we beat Bolsonaro. What we need now is to defeat this fascist narrative in Brazil. For this we must call on the democratic forces to demonstrate independently of the political party (…) to defend democracy,” he said.