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“Life goes on“ after Brazil riots but problems must be tackled: Supreme Court Justice


Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes walks at the Supreme Court building following Brazil’s anti-democratic riots, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Brazil must make sure it addresses the problems that led to the riots in Brasilia last month, including the “politicisation” of the police and the role of social media, but, for now, life goes on as usual, Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a business conference in Portugal’s capital Lisbon, Mendes said problems “accumulated” during the four years far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro was in power.

Bolsonaro supporters stormed government buildings on Jan. 8, calling for a military coup to restore their leader who left the country without conceding defeat by leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was sworn in on the first day of the year.

“There’s a debate taking place about the role of these radical groups, (about) what needs to be done,” Mendes said, explaining authorities were looking into the alleged involvement of security forces in the riots.

Lula has said the local militarised police force did not do enough to stop the advance of the protesters. The Supreme Court is leading the criminal probe into the riots.

Mendes said it was important to discuss reforms in the security sector to tackle what he described as the “politicisation” of the police. He said there were issues with the armed forces too.

He also said it was crucial to address the role played by social media platforms. People took to social media and messaging platforms to organise protests in support of Bolsonaro.

Facebook parent Meta and Google’s video platform YouTube said they removed content supporting or praising the riots.

“It is a responsible reflection … but (the current) situation (is) of normality,” Mendes said. “The country is moving forward… The stock market continues to rise, the dollar is under control, congress is functioning, life goes on as usual.

“I think democracy, once again, showed its resilience.”

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