January 29, 2023

‘No Amnesty!’: Brazil Protests Demand Jail Sentences For Rioters

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — “No apologies! No apologies! No apology!”

The chant echoed off the walls of a packed hall at the University of Sao Paulo’s law school on Monday afternoon. Within hours, thousands of Brazilians gathered in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo with rallying slogans, written on protest posters and banners.

Supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro and those who orchestrated the frenzy hit Brazil’s capital on Sunday, demanding revenge.

“These people must be punished, those who ordered it must be punished, those who paid for it must be punished,” said 61-year-old therapist Betty Amin on Sao Paulo’s main boulevard. The word “democracy” stretched across the back of her shirt. “They don’t represent Brazil. We represent Brazil.

Opponents’ push for accountability evokes memories of the Amnesty Act For decades it has defended members of the military accused of abuse and murder during the country’s 1964-85 dictatorship. A 2014 Truth Commission report sparked a debate about how Brazil has held onto the legacy of the regime.

Refusal to carry out the sentence “may avoid tensions for the time being, but perpetuates instability,” Luis Felipe Miguel, a professor of political science at the University of Brasilia, wrote in “No Pardons” published Monday evening. “This is the lesson we should learn from the end of the military dictatorship, when Brazil decided not to punish the regime’s killers and torturers.”

On the same day, Brazilian police rounded up about 1,500 rioters. Some were caught trashing Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and Presidential Palace. Most were detained the next morning in a camp in Brasilia. Many were kept inside the gymnasium for the day, and a video shared on pro-Bolsonaro social media channels showed some complaining about poor treatment in the overcrowded space.

Nearly 600 people who were elderly, sick, homeless or mothers with children were questioned and released on Tuesday after their phones were searched, the federal police said in a statement. Its press office previously told The Associated Press that the force planned to charge at least 1,000 people. As of Tuesday afternoon, 527 people had been transferred to a detention center or prison.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration says jailing rioters is just the beginning.

Justice Minister Flávio Dino promised to prosecute those who worked behind the scenes to recruit supporters on social media and finance their transportation on charges of organized crime, coup d’état and violent suppression of the democratic rule of law. Authorities are also investigating allegations that local security personnel allowed the destruction to continue unhindered.

“We cannot compromise on fulfilling our legal obligations,” Dino said. “This execution is necessary so incidents like this don’t happen again.”

Lula signed a decree, now approved by both houses of Congress, ordering the federal government to assume control of the capital’s security.

The far-right refused to accept Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat. Since his loss on October 30, they have camped outside military bases in Brasilia, pleading for Bolsonaro to intervene to stay in power and oust Lula. When no coup happened, they rose up on their own.

Decked out in the green and yellow of the national flag, they broke windows, overturned furniture and threw computers and printers to the floor. They punched holes in a large Emiliano di Cavalcanti painting in the presidential palace and destroyed other works of art. They overturned a U-shaped table where Supreme Court judges sit, tore open the door of a judge’s office and vandalized a statue outside the court. A few hours passed before the police cleared the mob.

“What happened yesterday was unacceptable. This is terrorism,” said Marcelo Menez, a 59-year-old police officer from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, at a demonstration in Sao Paulo. I am here to protect democracy and protect the people.

“No apologies!” Cries of Lula’s Jan. 1 was also asked in response to the President’s description of the boycott during the inaugural address. of the outgoing Bolsonaro administration.

Bolsonaro, a former army chief, has cultivated nostalgia for the dictatorial era, hailed a notorious torturer as a hero and said the regime should have gone further in executing communists. His government also celebrated the anniversary Brazil’s 1964 coup d’état.

Political analysts have repeatedly warned that Bolsonaro is laying the groundwork for an uprising in the mold of the uprising that unfolded in the US Capitol on January 6.2021. For months, he has fueled belief among hardcore supporters that the country’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud — though he has offered no evidence and independent experts disagree.

The election’s results, the closest since Brazil’s return to democracy, were quickly recognized by politicians across the spectrum, including some Bolsonaro allies and dozens of other governments. The outgoing president almost immediately disappeared from view, surprising almost everyone, neither admitting defeat nor crying out for fraud. He and his party demanded cancellation of lakhs of votesThis was quickly dismissed By Election Commission.

Nothing has stopped Bolsonaro’s staunch supporters from hoping to stay in power.

In the immediate aftermath of the riots, Lula said the so-called “fascist fanatics” and their financial backers should be held accountable. He also accused Bolsonaro of encouraging the uprising.

Bolsonaro denied the president’s accusations on Sunday. “Peaceful protest is part of democracy, but vandalism and invasion of public buildings cross the line,” he wrote on Twitter.

Officials are also probing the role of the Central District Police in failing to stop the protesters’ progress or standing aside to let them disperse. Prosecutors in the capital said local security forces were at least negligent. A Supreme Court judge temporarily suspended the regional governor overseeing the force for what he called “willful neglect” and issued warrants for preventive arrests and searches of the homes of the former chiefs of the Defense Secretariat and military police.

Another judge accused authorities across Brazil of not cracking down on “domestic neofascism” quickly enough.

The uprising finally prompted municipal and state governments to dismantle pro-Bolsonaro camps outside the military camps. Their tents and tarps were removed, and the residents were sent packing.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy protesters want to cement their message – “No apologies!” – Law enforcement authorities and any far-right elements who dare to violate democracy again will be taken into account.

“After what happened yesterday, we have to go to the streets,” said Marcos Gama, a retiree who protested Monday night in Sao Paulo. “We have to react.”

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AP video journalist Mello reports from Sao Paulo. AP writer Carla Bridi contributed from El Salvador.