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Bolsonaro in Florida hospital; 1,500 supporters detained after riots in Brazil

Bolsonaro in Florida hospital; 1,500 supporters detained after riots in Brazil

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  • Bolsonaro is hospitalized for stomach pains, doubts about his US visa
  • Lula says the military did nothing to stop the coup plotters
  • Biden and other world leaders have condemned the riots

BRASILIA/ORLANDO, Fla., Jan 9 (Reuters) – Brazil’s far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro was admitted to a Florida hospital on Monday with stomach pains, while 1,500 of his supporters were arrested in Brazil after storming key buildings in the capital over the weekend.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist who took office on January 1 after defeating Bolsonaro in October’s election, has vowed to bring those responsible to justice. He accused the rebels of trying to overthrow democracy and questioned why the army had not discouraged calls for a military coup outside their barracks.

On Sunday, angry mobs ran amok through Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential offices, smashing windows, furniture and artwork in the worst attack on state institutions since Brazil’s return to democracy in the 1980s.

Bolsonaro, who flew to the United States days before the end of his term, went to an Orlando hospital on Monday complaining of intestinal pains related to a stabbing he received on the campaign trail in 2018. His doctor said he had a bowel obstruction that was not serious and likely would not require surgery.

In an interview with CNN Brasil, Bolsonaro said he had planned to stay in the United States until the end of January, but now plans to return to Brazil sooner to see his doctors.

“I intend to postpone my return because in Brazil doctors already know about my problem with intestinal obstruction due to the stab wound,” Bolsonaro said, according to a report on the CNN Brasil website.

WE REMAIN IN QUESTION

Bolsonaro is facing several investigations before Brazil’s Supreme Court and his future in the US, where he traveled on a visa issued to heads of state, diplomats and other government officials, is questionable.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democratic lawmaker in the US Congress, said on CNN that the United States should not grant asylum to an “authoritarian man who has inspired domestic terrorism” and should send Bolsonaro back to Brazil.

The US government declined to comment on Bolsonaro’s current visa status.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said a person who entered on a foreign official visa must leave the country within 30 days or apply for a change of immigration status if they are no longer engaged in official business.

Restoring order in the Brazilian capital, Brazilian soldiers backed by police on Monday broke up a two-month camp outside army headquarters where Bolsonaro’s supporters protested after his election defeat.

About 1,200 people from the camp were detained for questioning on Monday, authorities said, following about 300 arrests on Sunday.

Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters marched from that camp the Sunday before stormed the presidential palace, the Supreme Court and Congress.

Lula, who was back at work at the ransacked Planalto Palace, met with his defense minister and armed forces commanders to discuss the violence, reminiscent of the attack on the US Capitol two years ago by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Speaking later to the country’s governors, Lula stepped up his criticism of Brazil’s military for tolerating demonstrations outside their gates calling for a coup after Bolsonaro lost the election.

“People were openly calling for a coup outside the barracks and nothing was done. No general lifted a finger to tell them they couldn’t do this,” the 77-year-old president said. He accused some security forces of being complicit with the rebels.

LULA WASHINGTON INVITED

US President Joe Biden joined others world leaders condemning Sunday’s riots as “outrageous” while Bolsonarowho is now in Florida, denied inciting his supporters and said the rebels had “crossed the line”.

In a phone call Monday, Biden invited Lula to visit Washington in early February, according to a White House statement.

Supporters of Bolsonaro’s truck drivers, who have been wreaking havoc on Brazil’s highways for months, held new protests until Sunday evening. The truck drivers are among Bolsonaro’s supporters who refuse to accept the result of the October election, trying to cause economic turmoil to provoked a military coup.

On Monday, police lifted the blockade of the BR 163 highway, which crosses Brazil’s largest grain producer, Mato Grosso, and another highway in the state of Paraná.

Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered Brazil’s governor suspended from office late Sunday for 90 days over alleged security lapses and demanded that social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and TikTok block accounts of users spreading anti-democratic propaganda.

Facebook parent Meta (META.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) video platform YouTube said Monday it was removing content supporting or glorifying the weekend’s actions. TikTok and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

Brazil’s financial markets hold steady after an early decline, with the Bovespa stock index (.BVSP) rose in afternoon trade and the currency closed 0.4% lower against the US dollar. Some analysts said Sunday’s violence could strengthen Lula politically.

Reuters graphic Reuters graphic

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguasu, Gabriel Stardgarter, Gabriel Araujo, Anthony Bowdle and Sergio Queiros; Editing by Brad Haynes, Edmund Blair, Paul Simao, Cynthia Osterman and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jamie MacGyver

Thomson Reuters

Jamie McGeever has been a financial journalist since 1998, reporting from Brazil, Spain, New York, London and now back in the US. Focus on the economy, central banks, politicians and global markets – especially FX and fixed income. Follow me on Twitter: @ReutersJamie


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