Brazil’s army chief has been fired in the aftermath of this month’s uprising : NPR

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An agent walks past the head of a statue depicting the Greek goddess Themis, outside the Brazilian Supreme Court building that was damaged by supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

Eraldo Peres/AP


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Eraldo Peres/AP

An agent walks past the head of a statue depicting the Greek goddess Themis, outside the Brazilian Supreme Court building that was damaged by supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

Eraldo Peres/AP

BRASILIA, Brazil — President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fired Brazil’s army chief on Saturday just days after the leftist leader openly said some members of the military enabled the 8/8 uprising. January in the capital by far-right demonstrators.

The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said that Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda was removed as head of the army. He was replaced by Gen. Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command.

Lula, who has not commented publicly on the shooting, met with Defense Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa and the new army commander in Brasilia later in the day. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mucio said that the January 8 riots caused a “breach in the level of trust” in the highest levels of the army and the government decided that a change was needed.

In recent weeks, Lula has targeted the military with criticism after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings and destroyed public property in an attempt to keep Bolsonaro in office.

The uprising underlined the polarization in Brazil between left and right.

Lula said several times in public that there were definitely people in the army who allowed the riots to happen, although he never mentioned Arruda.

During a breakfast with the press, Lula said earlier this week that “many people from the military police and the armed forces were complicit” and had allowed the protesters to enter the buildings with the doors open. In another interview, the president said that “all the military involved in the coup attempt will be punished, regardless of rank.”

The comments were followed by Lula scheduling several meetings with the defense minister and the commanders of the armed forces. Mucio denied that they mentioned the uprising of January 8, but said that the relations between the military and the government needed adjustment.

On the eve of Arruda’s dismissal, a video was released of a speech by Paiva earlier in the week in which he said that the results of the election should be respected in order to guarantee democracy.

Riots that entered the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brazil sought for the military to intervene and reverse the defeat of Bolsonaro against Lula in the presidential election.

In a video that was uploaded on social media from inside the presidential palace on the day of the attack, a colonel is seen trying to stop the police from arresting Bolsonaro’s supporters who had invaded the building. He asks for patience from the military police, which reports to the federal district government.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the riot and the morning after the disturbance, which bore a strong resemblance to the riot of January 6, 2021, in the United States Congress by mobs who wanted to overthrow the electoral defeat of -former President Donald Trump.

A Brazilian Supreme Court justice earlier this month authorized adding Bolsonaro to its investigation into who incited the riots in Brazil as part of a wider crackdown to hold responsible parties accountable.

According to the text of his sentence, Judge Alexandre de Moraes accepted the request from the general prosecutor’s office, citing a video that Bolsonaro uploaded on Facebook two days after the riot. The video claimed that Lula was not voted into office, but was chosen by the Supreme Court and the electoral authority of Brazil.

Lula has been trying to reduce the high number of military officers in the administration of the government left by Bolsonaro. At least 140 military officers have been fired since Lula took office on January 1.

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