Petro condemns “fascist coup” against Brazil’s Lula

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Colombia Gustavo Petro and Lula da Silva in Brasilia. Photo: Andrea Puentes/Presidencia.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro threw his political support behind Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as events unfolded Sunday in the Brazilian capital. Taking to Twitter, Petro referred to the siege of Congress and attack on the presidential palace as a “fascist coup”. Petro added that the “right that hasn’t been able to make a pact with non-violence.”  He called on the OAS to summon an emergency meeting.

Colombia’s first leftist leader had attended Lula’s inauguration in Brasilia just over a week ago.

Joining a growing chorus of international outrage from leaders from across the political spectrum to scenes that recall the assault on the U.S Congress on January 6, 2021, supporters of the former right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro attacked the three seats of the government, many decked in Brazilian flags and carrying sticks with intent to smash the windows of the nation’s Capitol.

Police sealed-off of streets to contain the political violence and some 300 protestors have been arrested. Lula who took office on January 1 and third-term as President narrowly beat Bolsonaro in a run-off vote.

Lula was away from Brasilia when the attack happened, but was flown to the capital to witness the destruction to government buildings, and offices of senior legislative and judicial representatives. The most recently-elected leader of the Latin American wave in so-called “Pink Tide” governments vowed to punish those responsible for the violence that raged in Brasilia during a demonstration in which an estimated 4,000 anti-government supporters participated.

The anger on the streets of the Brazilian capital by many who claim Lula’s election was rigged and signals the demise of democracy in the country, follows weeks of civil unrest in Peru after President Pedro Castillo was ousted from power for trying to illegally dissolve congress. The left-wing leader was facing an impeachment trial on  charges of corruption when arrested. Petro had claimed during the rioting on the streets of Lima that Castillo was a “victim” of judicial persecution.

During a meeting at the Itamaraty Palace hours after Lula’s inauguration ceremony, both leaders discussed Brazil’s role as a guarantor nation in Colombia’s peace talks with illegal armed groups, among them the ELN guerrilla; as well as a “great pact to save the Amazon jungle” and “electrical interconnection of the Americas with clean energy sources.” The presidents agreed to convene an Amazon Summit, to be held in Leticia or Tabatinga, on the border of the two countries, between April and May this year. Petro also invited Lula to participate in a conference on reshaping drug policy in Latin America.