Brazil security forces are disbanding and arresting supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed the nation's capital as incumbent Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva moves to assert his authority over rioters who sought to unseat him.
More than 1,500 people who were camping in front of military headquarters in Brasilia and demanding a coup were detained Monday after top court Justice Alexandre de Moraes gave police 24 hours to disperse such groups across the country. Aerial TV footage showed dozens of buses that had been used to bring rioters to Brasilia now taking them to police stations for booking.
Meanwhile, Lula held a meeting with the heads of the Supreme Court, congress and several of his cabinet members at a presidential palace left in shambles.
"We're united to ensure that institutional measures are taken in accordance with the law," they wrote in a joint statement after the meeting. "We call on society to remain calm, defending peace and democracy in our country."
In an additional show of strength, the leftist president is meeting with the high command of the Armed Forces and is scheduled to host state governors who are expected to fly into the capital throughout the day.
Earlier on Monday, Moraes criticized the "despicable terrorist attacks on democracy" and ordered Federal District Governor Ibaneis Rocha removed from office for 90 days while his responsibility in the security breach is probed. He also ordered further investigation and the possible arrests of those who financed the acts.
The real weakened 1.4% on Monday, leading losses among the world's 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Swap rates climbed, while the benchmark Ibovespa equity index fell as much as 0.8%, missing out on a rally in global stocks.
Thousands of Bolsonaro's supporters found little push-back from security forces on Sunday when breaking into Brazil's congress, presidential palace and top court in an uprising akin to the Jan. 6 invasion of the US Capitol two years ago. Police took hours to regain control of the modernist buildings which had been ransacked, and only after Lula decreed an intervention in the security of the Federal District, which encompasses Brasilia.
Rioters draped in Brazilian flags and chanting nationalistic hymns broke windows and furniture and carried out other acts of vandalism at government headquarters, while others took videos and selfies. Several works of art were damaged.
The assault on the nation's capital was long in the making. Supporters of Bolsonaro have been protesting the result of the October election that gave the leftist leader his razor-thin victory. They had been mostly camping in front of military headquarters that police forces had no access to while the former president traveled to the US instead of participating in a ceremony when power was handed over to Lula on Jan. 1.
The military avoided taking action against the protesters even after Lula took office and appointed a civilian defense chief to head them. Defense Minister Jose Mucio Monteiro opted for a soft approach, saying he even had "family and friends" among the demonstrators, and that such camps would die down with time.
Instead, Bolsonaro's most radical supporters used the camps as a base to plot actions against the new government, hoping that, if they unleashed chaos, the military would step in and take power. In late December, there was a bomb scare near Brasilia's airport. More than a hundred buses of Bolsonaro supporters arrived in the capital ahead of the Sunday protests.
Bolsonaro has so far issued only a half-hearted condemnation of the events, and hours after they took place on Sunday.
"Peaceful demonstrations, within the law, are part of democracy," he wrote on Twitter. "But depredations and invasions of public buildings like we saw today, similar to the acts done by the left in 2013 and 2017, are not within the rules."