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AP: Protests in Brazil gradually subside thanks to tough action by authorities

12-1-2023 |

Brazilian authorities on Wednesday spared no effort to boost security in the face of a social media flyer promoting a “mega-protest to retake power” in two dozen cities. Whether because of preventative measures adopted or not, the supposed uprising was a dud.

Less than 10 protesters showed along Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach; there were more journalists in attendance, plus 29 police vehicles. On Brasilia’s esplanade surrounded by federal government buildings, authorities had designated an area for protest and stationed police and national guard troops. Just one couple showed, dressed in the same Brazil soccer jerseys that thousands of rioters wore four days earlier.

Speaking to journalists in Brasilia earlier, the federal appointee who has assumed control of the capital’s security said police were shutting down the main avenue to traffic, limiting pedestrian access with barricades and blocking all access to the square that was the site of Sunday’s mayhem.

“The right to protest freely will always be respected and cannot be confused with terrorism,” said the official, Ricarado Cappelli.

Citing the call to protest, a Supreme Court justice ordered local authorities in cities across Brazil to prevent protesters from blocking roads or occupying public spaces and buildings. Justice Alexandre de Moraes also ordered arrests and fines for people and companies who participate or help with logistics and funding.

The all-hands response — and the subsequent tranquility — underscored just how jumpy authorities remain after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro rampaged through Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace on Sunday, laying ruin to the government’s three most important buildings. Officials arrested or detained some 1,500 people by the following morning, hundreds of whom were sent to prison.

Though there is no evidence of fraud in the Oct. 30 presidential election, the protesters have claimed the true winner was far-right Bolsonaro. He has fired up his base about the vulnerability of electronic voting machines despite independent experts’ assurances they are closely scrutinized. Bolsonaro also has warned his supporters that the election’s leftist victor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, would impose communism.

Jailing rioters represents only part of the government’s effort to hold people responsible, with authorities also seeking to track down those who enabled the uprising. That includes organizers who summoned protesters to the capital and paid their way as well as local security personnel accused of either standing by and allowing the destruction to occur, or even cooperating.

“Absolutely NOTHING justifies the omission and collusion of the security secretary and the military police commander,” de Moraes wrote in his decision, which was made public late Tuesday.

“There are strong indications that the conduct of criminal terrorists could only have occurred with the willful participation or omission — which will be determined in these investigations — of the aforementioned public authorities,” de Moraes wrote.

Source: AP