A year after the attacks, Lula calls for unity in a still polarized Brazil

The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, will meet tomorrow with the institutional leadership in an attempt to show unity one year after the Bolsonaro riot in Brasilia, but the expected absence of right-wing figures shows that polarization continues on the surface in Brazil.

On the first anniversary of the invasion of the presidential palace, Congress and the Supreme Court by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, dissatisfied with Lula’s election, the president will lead an event in Parliament to “remember the attempted coup d’état” .

The depredation of the buildings “left deep scars,” but “democracy emerged victorious,” said Lula, for the third time in power. In an interview with the newspaper O Globo, the president shifted part of the responsibility for the attacks to his Minister of Defense, José Múcio, who the day before conveyed his peace of mind despite the protests that had been taking place two months earlier than expected. occurred in the Plaza de los Tres Poderes in the capital. “Honestly, I didn’t have the right information,” he said. “Before traveling to São Paulo, I spoke with Minister Múcio. He said he was calm. I traveled calmly, it did not occur to me that this demonstration would surprise me. “Honestly, I did not have the correct information that there would be a possibility of that happening.”

So far, around thirty participants in the riot have been sentenced to sentences of up to 17 years in prison and the far-right Bolsonaro is being investigated as a possible instigator and intellectual author of the attacks.

The ceremony will bring together the leaders of the Legislature, Supreme Court justices, governors, military commanders, civil society leaders and ambassadors.

For political scientist André César, Lula will seek to reproduce the image of national “unity” of the day after the invasion, when he symbolically walked alongside other authorities among the destruction of the Plaza de los Tres Poderes, the political epicenter of Brasilia.

Cracks. But the event will show cracks due to the expected absence of relevant figures from the right such as the governor of Sao Paulo, Tarcisio Freitas, Bolsonaro’s former minister. Freitas, a possible presidential candidate, and other opponents see a political intention in the act and do not intend to “reinforce Lula’s image as a great builder” of the “unification of the country,” says César, from the consulting firm Hold.

The attacks by thousands of Bolsonaro supporters calling for military intervention a week after Lula’s inauguration were the culmination of a period of maximum tension in Brazil, fractured between two completely opposite visions of society.

In Lula’s first year, however, a climate of apparent appeasement settled in Brazil, especially after Bolsonaro was sidelined by his political disqualification, having discredited the electoral system without evidence.

The invasion left at least one “positive” result: the strengthening of democratic convictions, according to Geraldo Monteiro, professor of Political Science at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. “But polarized positions persist,” he says.

“An unarmed coup?” While the left denounces a coup attempt, Bolsonaro’s allies support the participants in the riots. “Have you seen a coup without weapons? Have you seen a terrorist act without bombs?”, deplores the influential evangelical pastor Silas Malafaia, estimating that the invasion was not violent.

“Pure political persecution” against “innocent people,” adds this personal friend of the former president, who married him to his wife Michelle.

Justice, however, does not give up. “There is no limit” to the investigations against the participants in the attacks, said Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, protagonist of these processes.

And politicians with proven participation in these riots “must be removed from political life, beyond criminal responsibility,” he told the newspaper O Globo.

For experts, January 8 became a new piece in polarization, as in the “cultural wars” that are fought between ideological camps on issues such as access to weapons, decriminalization of abortion and LGTB+ rights.

For César, the phenomenon “calcified” by “overstepping the limit of politics and becoming a matter of identity.” “It is a fight that has no armistices or truces,” says Monteiro.

On social networks, some Bolsonaro supporters called for a paralysis of the country on January 8, advocating that it be considered “Patriot’s Day.” However, authorities do not expect major protests. About 2,000 police officers will act in Brasilia, where traffic will be interrupted around places of power.

A year later, the invaded buildings were repaired, with reinforced glass and gates.

But without walls raised, Brasilia, the capital founded in 1960, maintains its ideal of a “transparent city,” but “with fragile barriers,” says urban planner Jorge Francisconi.

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