White House Responds After Pro-Bolsonaro Protesters Breach Brazilian Congress

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.
January 8, 2023Updated: January 8, 2023

The Biden administration on Sunday condemned Brazilian protesters who broke through security blockades and breached the country’s national Congress, presidential palace, and Supreme Court.

“Using violence to attack democratic institutions is always unacceptable. We join [President Luiz Inacio Lula Silva] in urging an immediate end to these actions,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote Sunday on Twitter.

White House adviser Jake Sullivan said President Joe Biden, who visited the U.S.–Mexico border on Sunday, “is following the situation closely and our support for Brazil’s democratic institutions is unwavering … Brazil’s democracy will not be shaken by violence.”

Videos and photos from the scene in Brasilia, the country’s capital city, showed protesters inside the presidential palace and destroying furniture in Congress and the Supreme Court. Some footage showed protesters on top of the national Congress. Reports indicated that Lula, who was inaugurated on Jan. 1, was not there, while it was likely few officials were working in the Brazilian Congress and Supreme Court on a Sunday.

At about 5:30 p.m. local time, less than three hours after the storming, security forces seemed to be regaining control of the presidential palace and Supreme Court’s surroundings, while thousands of protesters remained around Congress and on its roof.

Former President Jair Bolsonaro, who flew to the United States ahead of Lula’s inauguration, has not commented on Sunday’s events. The social media channels of his three lawmaker sons also were silent.

Epoch Times Photo
Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro hold a demonstration at the Esplanada dos Ministerios in Brasilia on Jan. 8, 2023. (Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images)

Federal District Gov. Ibaneis Rocha confirmed on Twitter that he had fired the capital city’s head of public security, Anderson Torres.

Bolsonaro supporters have been protesting Lula’s electoral win since Oct. 30, blocking roads and gathering outside military buildings, seeking the armed forces to intervene. Many of them alleged that election results were fraudulent or unreliable.

Videos on social media showed a limited presence of the capital’s military police; one showed officers standing by as people flooded into Congress, with one using his phone to record images. The capital’s security secretariat didn’t immediately issue a public comment about the relative absence of the police.

Other than the White House, other world leaders similarly condemned the protests and breach of the three government buildings.

Epoch Times Photo
Military Police forces fire tear gas at supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro as they storm the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia on Jan. 8, 2023. (Sergio Lima/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro
Supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, on Jan. 8, 2023. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

“The coup attempt by the Brazilian conservatives urged on by the leadership of oligarchic power, their spokespersons and fanatics, is reprehensible and undemocratic. Lula is not alone, he has the support of the progressive forces of his country, Mexico, the American continent and the world,” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“The government of Peru energetically condemns the assault on the headquarters of congress, the presidency and the supreme court of Brazil and any attempt to disregard the legitimacy of the October 2022 elections. Our solidarity with President Lula and Brazilian democracy,” said the Peruvian Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

“We reject the violent actions in recent hours against the democratic institutions of the Federal Republic of Brazil and reiterate our support to our brothers in Brazil and their President Lula da Silva, democratically elected at the polls,” Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.