On the afternoon of 8 January 2023, approximately 3,000 supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the Plaza of the Three Powers buildings – which comprise the National Congress, the Alvorada Palace and Supreme Federal Court — in the capital Brasília to demand the resignation of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Some demonstrators also called for the military to intervene to restore Bolsonaro to power. In response, da Silva has ordered federal intervention in the capital region until 31 January.
The events – which follow da Silva’s inauguration on 1 January — occurred after supporters of Bolsonaro marched from army headquarters to the Plaza of the Three Powers to dispute da Silva’s victory in the 30 October 2022 presidential election. Social media videos depicted hundreds of protesters breaking through barricades surrounding the government buildings and entering the facilities. Demonstrators then proceeded to vandalize the buildings, break into ministerial offices and shatter windows. Police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets in a failed attempt to disperse the demonstrators, who threw sticks and stones at security personnel and vandalized police vehicles.
Congress and the Supreme Court are currently in recess. There were only a limited number of government personnel present when protesters stormed the buildings, although a presidential team was evacuated from the presidential palace. Officials have cordoned off the Monumental Axis and deployed military and police reinforcements to the area. While authorities have cleared the Alvorada Palace and the Supreme Federal Court of demonstrators, protesters remain in the National Congress building. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Meanwhile in Sao Paulo, pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators blocked 23 de Maio Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares of the city.
In recent months, violent demonstrations contesting election results have occurred frequently in multiple cities. Travelers should be prepared for possible further protest-related disruptions in Brasilia in the coming days.