Biden condemns 'assault on democracy' by rioters in Brazil

The U.S. president joined other world leaders in condemning supporters of ex-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed that country's Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace.

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President Biden joined world leaders in condemning thousands of supporters of ex-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed that country's Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace on Sunday.

“I condemn the assault on democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil,” Biden tweeted late Sunday. “Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined.”

He added that he looks forward to “continuing to work with” newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftist who defeated the far-right Bolsonaro in the country’s presidential election last fall.

A half dozen police in riot gear, one of whom is holding a rifle with visible muzzle flash, stand among civilians, including one who is being carried by others draped in Brazilian flags.
Police confront supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasília on Sunday. (Andre Borges/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Biden, who arrived in Mexico City for this week’s North American leaders summit, joined Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a joint statement condemning the riots.

“Canada, Mexico, and the United States condemn the January 8 attacks on Brazil’s democracy and on the peaceful transfer of power. We stand with Brazil as it safeguards its democratic institutions,” the statement read. “Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond.”

Biden and Lula had a phone conversation on Monday afternoon during which Biden "conveyed the unwavering support of the United States for Brazil’s democracy and for the free will of the Brazilian people," according to a statement from the White House.

Hundreds of people in yellow and green shirts stand on and around a large building and connected ramp.
Hundreds of Bolsonaro supporters storm the headquarters of Congress in Brasília on Sunday. (Andre Borges/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

"President Biden condemned the violence and the attack on democratic institutions and on the peaceful transfer of power," the statement read. "The two leaders pledged to work closely together on the issues confronting the United States and Brazil, including climate change, economic development, and peace and security."

During the call, Lula accepted Biden's invitation to visit Washington, D.C., next month, the White House added.

At the ceremonial swearing in of Elizabeth Bagley as the U.S. ambassador to Brazil in Washington, D.C., Vice President Kamala Harris also condemned the riots.

"Let's be clear: This was an obvious and clear attack on a democratic process," Harris said, adding that she is “confident” in Bagley’s ability to help restore peace in the region.

A handful of people in green and yellow shirts on and around a dais in a large room.
Supporters of Bolsonaro occupy the floor of the Senate in Brasília on Sunday. (EyePress News/Shutterstock)

The scene in Brasília on Sunday was reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by then-outgoing President Donald Trump’s supporters, who also denied the results of their candidate’s election.

“Rioters donning the green and yellow of the national flag on Sunday broke windows, toppled furniture, hurled computers and printers to the ground,” the Associated Press reported. “They punctured a massive Emiliano Di Cavalcanti painting in five places, overturned the U-shaped table at which Supreme Court justices convene, ripped a door off one justice’s office and vandalized an iconic statue outside the court. The monumental buildings’ interiors were left in states of ruin.”

Brazilian authorities vowed to punish the rioters and bring all who took part in the attacks to justice.

Seen through cracked glass, hundreds of people, many of whom wear yellow and green shirts, stand on a concrete park next to a small pond.
Bolsonaro supporters clash with security forces outside Brazil's Supreme Court. (Joedson Alves/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“They will not succeed in destroying Brazilian democracy. We need to say that fully, with all firmness and conviction,” Justice Minister Flávio Dino said late Sunday. “We will not accept the path of criminality to carry out political fights in Brazil. A criminal is treated like a criminal.”

More than 1,200 people have been detained so far, the Justice Ministry’s press office said Monday.

Since his Oct. 30 election defeat, Bolsonaro has claimed without evidence that his loss was fraudulent and that the electronic voting system was rigged against him.

Bolsanaro fled Brazil two days before his term ended, on Jan. 1, and is currently staying in Florida. On Monday he was reportedly admitted to a hospital in Kissimmee, Fla., with abdominal pain.

A person wearing a green and yellow shirt and white bandana over their face kneels next to fallen crowd-control fencing behind a few dozen police in riot gear.
A supporter of Bolsonaro kneels in front of police in Brasília on Sunday. (Andre Borges/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)