After the Brasilia riots, President Lula was strengthened
RIO DE JANEIRO: By wanting to prevent Lula from governing at all costs and by tearing apart the institutional buildings in Brasilia, the right-wing rioters on January 8 finally cemented the power of the left-wing president, analysts believe.
More than 4,000 supporters of former head of state Jair Bolsonaro, who has resisted his electoral defeat to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva since October, are taking advantage of the fact that the new government is poised to sow chaos in the capital.
Exactly one week after Lula’s inauguration, which combined ceremonial pomp and popular joy in Brasilia, the unleashed mob stormed and searched the Planalto Presidential Palace, the Supreme Court, and the Congress.
“It is clear that the events of (January 8) had the opposite effect” of what was sought, Mayra Goulart, professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) told AFP.
“Lula has undoubtedly come out stronger. These attacks have created a climate of national unity to defend democracy,” he explained.
The imagery is strong: Lula descended the ramp from the presidential palace to go to Three Powers Square, flanked by the heads of the Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and governors, just hours after a search of the powerhouses.
Together, they reaffirmed that a young democracy would not falter in Brazil, three decades after the end of the military dictatorship.
Abroad, the attack was unanimously condemned. Washington, Moscow, Beijing, the European Union, Paris or Latin American capitals have expressed their full support for the Brazilian president, who, under Bolsonaro, has isolated himself from the world.
“The international turmoil will strengthen the position of Lula, who will be seen as an important leader who can contribute to strengthening multilateral forums,” predicted Ms. Goulart.
Leandro Gabiati, director of consulting firm Dominium, also believes that “the positive image that Lula already has overseas is getting stronger”. And Jair Bolsonaro, who is now the target of an investigation into instigators of violence he swears has nothing to do with, is even more relegated.
And at home, Lula is strong “with the full support of governors, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the financial sector,” he said, of all political leanings.
In this sequence, the historic leftist leader is also supported by the political class and the Brazilian population, most of whom are appalled by the shocking images of institutional violence.
Lula “was challenged and he came out quite well,” said Mr Gabiati, evoking a “balanced attitude that allows, in some way, to restore normalcy”.
In official buildings still filled with broken windows and broken old furniture, new ministers of Lula’s government continue to be included in official ceremonies, as if nothing had happened, in the days after the Bolsonaria tornado .
But Lula’s government is firm: “fascists” will be hunted down, sentenced – up to 30 years in prison for “terrorism” – as well as all those who organized and financed the riots and around whom crime intensified.
Within days, more than a thousand troublemakers were imprisoned.
Police forces and security services will be reorganized, the security of the presidential palace will be cleared of Bolsonarists.
Lula should “take exemplary sanctions to avoid a repetition of this kind of demonstration”, Mr. Gabiati.
Because the left-wing president remains under threat from the Bolsonist movement whose most extreme elements have not given up on bringing him down. And no one said that national unity would last.
The event “came as a reminder that Lula is facing a divided country”, the Eurasia consultancy noted.
Lula beat Bolsonaro by presidential wire by 60 million votes to 58 million, after a violent and polarizing campaign.
In addition, he has to face many challenges for this 3rd term as leader of Brazil where poverty and hunger are a scourge.
“It is necessary to put energy into the investigation and conviction of the rebels”, said Ms. Goulart, but “this must not taint de Lula’s mandate”.
The left-wing icon must “improve the living conditions of the population, revive the economy and public policy”, if his mandate is to succeed.