Brazil riots: Advice for UK travellers amid storming of Brazil’s Congress & public buildings by protestors

Far-right supporters of defeated president Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court on Sunday. Here’s the  official advice for UK travellers.

People travelling to Brazil are advised to avoid political rallies following riots in the capital city that saw Brazil’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court invaded and ransacked by far-right supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro.

The riots, which reportedly lasted just over three hours in Brasilia on Sunday (January 8), came days after the inauguration of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who defeated Bolsonaro with just 50.9% of the votes, making him the first president of Brazil to lose his bid for re-election.

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Lula has since vowed to “punish” the rioters and described the vandals as “fanatical fascists”, saying: “They did what has never been done in the history of this country…All these people who did this will be found and they will be punished.” At least 300 people were arrested following the riots.

Following the unrest, the UK government has issued travel advice for those who are travelling to Brazil. It says protests, demonstrations and strikes take place regularly in cities across Brazil with reports of arrests and clashes between police and protesters. These kind of events are more common in urban areas and can disrupt transport.

It says: “Following the election result in October, demonstrations and road blockades occurred across the country. There is an ongoing risk that such protests could occur again around the inauguration. British nationals in Brazil are encouraged to avoid political rallies and events where crowds have congregated to protest.

“If you’re travelling or live in Brazil, take common sense precautions, follow local news reports, avoid political rallies or other events where crowds have congregated to protest and comply with the instructions of local authorities. If you encounter a political protest or feel uncomfortable in a large gathering, try to leave the area straight away.”

Lula was formerly president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011, and he defeated Bolsonaro in a run-off election last year. Shortly after the election, Bolsonaro’s supporters began assembling for the first time outside military facilities around Brazil, calling for a military intervention to prevent Lula from returning to office.

Truckers were among Bolsonaro’s supporters who blocked roads across the country after his defeat in the following days. His supporters attended rallies across the country in November, calling for military intervention.

Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with the police during a demonstration outside the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on January 8, 2023. - Brazilian police used tear gas Sunday to repel hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro after they stormed onto Congress grounds one week after President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva's inauguration, an AFP photographer witnessed. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with the police during a demonstration outside the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on January 8, 2023. - Brazilian police used tear gas Sunday to repel hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro after they stormed onto Congress grounds one week after President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva's inauguration, an AFP photographer witnessed. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with the police during a demonstration outside the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on January 8, 2023. - Brazilian police used tear gas Sunday to repel hundreds of supporters of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro after they stormed onto Congress grounds one week after President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva's inauguration, an AFP photographer witnessed. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is among world leaders to condemn the scenes in Brazil, which echoed the January 6 uprising in Washington DC by Donald Trump supporters in 2021.

The Prime Minister said on Twitter: “I condemn any attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power and the democratic will of the people of Brazil.” He also said Lula has the UK’s “full support”, adding: “I look forward to building on our countries’ close ties in the years ahead.”

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