Brazil to mark anniversary of January 8 attack on democracy

BRASILIA – Brazil will hold ceremonies in the capital celebrating its democratic system one year after a right-wing mob invaded and vandalized Brazil’s Congress, its Supreme Court and the presidential palace to protest an election result.

About 500 guests are invited to an event in Brazil’s Congress where leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Congressional leaders are expected to speak.

“We must never forget January 8, 2023: the day that some irresponsible people attempted a coup in this country. But the Three Powers stood out and democracy won,” Lula said on Sunday on social media. “Long live democracy!”

Governors from all states were invited, but some who oppose Lula’s government were unlikely to attend.

In January 2023, supporters of hard-right former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the buildings that symbolize Brazil’s democracy, a week after Lula had taken office. They opposed his October election victory and called for a military coup.

Bolsonaro, who never conceded defeat, had left the country for the United States before the presidential handover to Lula.

The assault on Brasilia’s main government buildings was the Brazilian equivalent of the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021 after his election loss to Joe Biden.

About 2,000 people were arrested over the Brasilia attack, though most were later released. Others have been convicted by the Supreme Court on charges of an attempted coup, among other crimes, following police investigations into those who took part in the riots and who fostered or funded the attack.

Bolsonaro is under investigation by the Supreme Court for allegedly masterminding the riots, something he denies.

Brazil`s electoral authority banned Bolsonaro from running for elected office for eight years over abuse of power and misuse of the media ahead of the 2022 election, when he summoned ambassadors to vent unfounded claims about Brazil’s electronic voting system.

Supreme Court judge Gilmar Mendes has accused Bolsonaro of political responsibility for the assault on Brasilia and that the armed forces had been encouraged by the former president not to stop his supporters protesting. Bolsonaro has denied any involvement in the matter.

A poll by Genial/Quaest released on Sunday showed that a large majority of Brazilians disapprove of the riots, with 89% against the protests by Bolsonaro backers and 6% for them. REUTERS

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