LatinNews Daily - 17 January 2023

BRAZIL: Dozens indicted for anti-democratic attacks

On 16 January, Brazil’s federal public prosecutors’ office (MPF) formally charged 39 people for their alleged involvement in the 8 January attacks against Brazil’s congress, presidential palace, and the supreme court (STF) headquarters in Brasília.


Those indicted (whose names have not been revealed) face charges including criminal association, coup activities, and destruction of public property. The indictments are part of a massive crackdown on those who executed, financed, instigated, or supported the storming of government buildings on 8 January, in what was considered the largest attack on Brazil’s democratic institutions since the end of the military regime in the mid-1980s. Following the 30 October presidential run-off election, supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022) had staged protests, calling for a military coup to overthrow the election result which produced a victory for leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT). While these protests had been tolerated in the name of freedom of expression, the 8 January violence indicated that they could pose a real threat to Brazil’s democratic institutions. Now, authorities have been engaged in major efforts to swiftly identify and punish all those involved in the 8 January violence.

  • The MPF asked for those indicted to be temporarily detained to prevent them from participating in other acts of violence. It also asked the STF to block R$40m (US$7.7m) in their collective assets to cover the material damage and fines related to the “collective moral harm" caused by the riots. Finally, it requested that those indicted who held public posts or served in political position be suspended from their posts.
  • The indictment was signed by deputy-prosecutor-general Carlos Frederico Santos, who coordinates the newly created strategic group to combat antidemocratic acts. It was issued in response to a petition filled by the senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco (Partido Social Democrático, PSD).
  • Around 1,800 people were arrested for the 8 January riots although about a third were released for humanitarian reasons (for example, elderly people with chronic disease and people with disabilities).
  • On 13 January, STF justice Alexandre de Moraes authorised the investigation of Bolsonaro as part of the enquiry to clarify the events surrounding the 8 January riots. Bolsonaro is accused of encouraging the acts of violence, which he denies. 
  • On 14 January, the police also arrested Bolsonaro’s former justice minister (2021-2022) Anderson Torres, who was Brasília’s public security secretary on 8 January and is accused of “omission” for not setting up an effective security plan to protect the government buildings.
  • Torres will also have to explain the origins of a draft text for a decree found by the police in his house, which aimed to institute a “state of defence”, allowing the president to intervene in the country’s top electoral court (TSE) and overthrow the election results.
  • Bolsonaro is currently in the US, having travelled there at the end of last month. Some US legislators, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), argue that he should not be allowed to stay in the country.
  • Also yesterday, PT president Gleisi Hoffmann said that the party will work to block in congress any attempt to concede amnesty for those who took part in the 8 January riots. “They will all be sanctioned,” she said.

Looking Ahead: Yesterday the TSE gave Bolsonaro three days to explain the document found in Torres’ house, which the court saw as evidence of plans for a coup d’état.

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