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Thousands march to demand the prosecution of Brazil rioters

The rallies came as Jair Bolsonaro's status faced growing scrutiny, with the former far-right president saying Monday that he had been admitted to a hospital in Florida.

Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Brazil demanding the prosecution of rioters who stormed government buildings in support of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Calling for those responsible to be brought to justice, crowds chanting "No amnesty!" marched late Monday in a loud display of support for the country's democracy, which came under attack Sunday.

The rallies came as Bolsonaro's status faced growing scrutiny, with President Joe Biden being urged to remove him from the United States.

Bolsonaro said late Monday that he had been admitted to a hospital in Florida, posting a picture on Twitter from his hospital bed. In an interview with CNN Brasil, Bolsonaro said he “is well” and expected to be discharged in the coming days after being hospitalized with “abdominal pain.”

He suggested that he may return to Brazil sooner than he had planned.

“I came (to the U.S.) to stay until the end of the month (January), but I intend to bring forward my return,” he said, adding that doctors in Brazil were familiar with treating pain linked to a stabbing injury from 2018.

Brazilian security forces cleared protest camps Monday and arrested 1,500 people as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned "acts of terrorism" after a far-right mob stormed the seat of power, unleashing chaos on the capital.
Former President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil in a hospital in Kissimmee, Fla., on Monday.AFP - Getty Images

Bolsonaro had reportedly flown to the U.S. two days before his term expired on Jan 1, skipping the inauguration of his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as president. 

Lula swore to prosecute those involved in the assault on Brazil's Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace and has directly accused Bolsonaro of encouraging the attacks — which carried unmistakable echoes of the riot at the U.S. Capitol two years ago.

Speaking later to the country’s governors, Lula, who returned to work at the ransacked presidential palace, stepped up his criticism of the Brazilian military for not taking swift action against those who had been camping outside their gates for months.

“People were openly calling for a coup outside the barracks, and nothing was done. No general lifted a finger to tell them they could not do that,” Lula said, accusing some security forces of being complicit with rioters.

Brazilian police said Monday that they had detained an estimated 1,500 people in connection with the insurrection, some of whom were arrested in a crackdown on pro-Bolsonaro protest camps in the capital, Brasilia.

But large crowds nonetheless sought to keep up the pressure for those involved to face retribution.

Image:
Demonstrators hold a banner reading "We are Democracy" in Portuguese at a protest in São Paulo on Monday. Andre Penner / AP

On Monday afternoon, protestors chanted “No Amnesty!” at the University of São Paulo’s law college, demanding that the riot instigators be brought to justice, according to The Associated Press. It soon became the rallying cry for thousands across Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, visible on posters and banners.

“These people need to be punished, the people who ordered it need to be punished, those who gave money for it need to be punished,” Bety Amin, a 61-year-old therapist with the word “DEMOCRACY” stretched across the back of her shirt, told the news agency on São Paulo’s main boulevard.

“They don’t represent Brazil. We represent Brazil,” she said.

Many have drawn parallels between Sunday’s attack and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Some are also honing in on the longstanding relationship between Bolsonaro, his family and Trump as well as some of his former strategists.

Biden, who is facing mounting pressure from a number of democratic lawmakers to expel Bolsonaro from the country, spoke to Lula in a phone call on Monday. He affirmed Lula’s victory and voiced “unwavering support” for Brazil’s democracy, according to a joint statement that was released by the White House Monday evening.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters earlier in the day that the U.S. had not received any official requests from the Brazilian government regarding the removal of Bolsonaro from Florida.

Asked whether Bolsonaro entered the U.S. on an A-1 visa — meant for foreign diplomats or heads of state — State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday declined to comment on Bolsonaro’s status specifically but said that type of visa lapses if the individual using it has a change in position.

The individual would need to apply for a change in status or leave the country, he said.