President Joe Biden condemned supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday as thousands stormed the country’s top government offices in an assault akin to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Brazil’s democratic institutions have our full support and the will of the Brazilian people must not be undermined,” Biden said on Twitter as the attack unfolded. “I look forward to continuing to work with [President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva].”
At least 400 people were arrested, officials in Brazil said, after authorities had cleared the country’s presidential offices, Congress and Supreme Court of rioters. The New York Times reported at least eight journalists were attacked or robbed during the riot, and several government buildings were damaged. A rug in the lower house of the country’s Congress was set on fire, and photos posted to social media showed people wandering through smoke-filled offices with upturned furniture.
The attack sparked eerie parallels to the events of Jan. 6, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the halls of Congress, some ransacking offices and attacking Capitol Police officers.
Lula condemned the attack just a week after his inauguration, calling it “abominable” and vowing to punish the far-right rioters with the full “strength of the law.”
Later Sunday, Bolsonaro, too, lambasted the destructive nature of the protest, saying that while his supporters should be able to peacefully demonstrate, “destruction and invasions of public buildings, like what occurred today,” were not in the same vein. The former Brazilian president has been in Florida for the last week, and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) called for him to be expelled from the U.S. following the events Sunday.
Bolsonaro, often called Brazil’s version of Donald Trump, was defeated in a close runoff election in October that was decided by less than two percentage points. Bolsonaro challenged the results of that election, demanding results be annulled and that he be declared the winner.
Those efforts were unsuccessful, and Lula took office on Jan. 1 to begin his tenure.