Lula’s government dismisses General Julio César de Arruda, head of the Brazilian army after the insurrection


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ousted Brazil’s army chief on Saturday and attacked the highest-ranking military official who must be held accountable after the January 8 insurrection, when right-wing protesters rampaged through corridors of power in this nation.

The order to fire Gen. Júlio Cesar de Arruda was delivered by Lula’s Defense Minister José Múcio, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly.

Arruda’s ouster came six days after The Washington Post reported that he had tried to protect protesters and supporters of defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro who were sheltering in a camp opposite the army headquarters after storming and looting the presidential palace. , the supreme court and congress.

Addressing Arruda’s firing on Saturday night, Múcio suggested that Arruda’s conduct on the night of January 8 was one of the reasons for Arruda’s firing.

“After these last episodes, the issue of the camps, the issue of January 8, relations with the Army command suffered a fracture in the level of trust. And we needed to stop that from the beginning,” Múcio told reporters in Brasilia as he stood next to Arruda’s replacement, General Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva.

Yet even after the night of the riots, Lula had tried to avoid direct conflict with Arruda, said a high-level judicial source who also spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly.

The official said Lula acted after Arruda refused his order to fire a former colonel Mauro Cid, who also commanded an army battalion in the city of Goiânia.

The decision now could further escalate tensions between Lula and the army, which, along with Brazil’s police forces, is believed to harbor strong sympathies for Bolsonaro, a right-wing ideologue and former army captain who filled the ranks of his cabinet and key civilians. positions with former members of the military.

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Lula’s government has already fired or forced to retire at least 40 other members of the army bases who were involved in the security of the presidential palace on the day of the attacks by the Bolsonaristas, as Bolsonaro’s supporters are known.

Judicial authorities are now investigating the alleged dereliction of duty and possible collusion with rioters by the military and security forces. The evidence under investigation includes the actions of military officers on the night of the riots, a change in the security plan before the insurgents gathered outside federal buildings on January 8, police inaction and fraternization when rioters began to enter the buildings, and the presence of a senior military police officer who had told his superiors that he was on vacation.

“The riots on January 8 have exposed Lula’s vulnerability vis-à-vis the military,” said Guilherme Casarões, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. “They have been complicit in the pro-Bolsonaro movements that have been growing since the electoral results came out. They have also been key players in spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories against the government they should be serving.”

The January 8 attack in Brazil echoed the January 6th, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol. As in the United States, the rioters in Brazil were motivated by false allegations of voter fraud. Like Trump, a close ally and political lodestar of the 67-year-old former leader defeated on October 30, Bolsonaro has also refused to concede defeat.

But the military’s potential complicity, or at least its sympathy for the rioters, has made the dynamic more dangerous for Lula. Many of the protesters are believed to be residents of a protest encampment that sprung up at the army headquarters in Brasilia on election night October 30, when Bolsonaristas falsely claimed that the defeated president had been mugged.

On the night of the riots, Lula government officials say, the president’s chief of staff, his justice and defense ministers and other top officials arrived at the space-age army headquarters to negotiate the detention of the insurgents and others at the protest camp.

“’Here you are not going to arrest people,’” Arruda told Lula’s justice minister around 10:20 p.m. The Washington Post reported it’s january 14

After initially refusing, the military commanders agreed to allow security officers under Lula’s control to carry out raids, but not until 6 a.m. the next day. Administration officials say they believe that bought the military time to warn hundreds of family and friends to leave.

Brazil’s military blocked arrests of Bolsonaro rioters, authorities say

Brazil’s Supreme Court moved on January 13 to open an investigation into Bolsonaro as part of its probe into the “instigators and masterminds” behind the January 8 attacks. Bolsonaro, who is currently holed up in Florida, spent much of his four-year term trying to undermine faith in Brazil’s trustworthy electoral system, attempts that intensified when polls showed him trailing Lula. Bolsonaro has denied any links to the rioters and has condemned political violence.

Arruda will be replaced by General Paiva, the military commander of the Southeast. In a speech this week, Paiva called on Brazilians to respect the result of the October elections and stated that the army is an apolitical and non-partisan institution.

Lula had publicly expressed his distrust of the military after January 8, but his advisers had said he would not fire the commander before investigations were completed to avoid worsening tensions between the executive and the armed forces.

On Friday, Lula met with Arruda and the commanders of the Navy, Marcos Sampaio Olsen, and of the Air Force, Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno. The meeting was intended to reduce tensions at the beginning of his government.

Lula, observers say, will now have to balance his supporters’ expectations of fairness with the need to ensure he does not further alienate his top brass.

“Lula supporters hope that the president will carry out a witch hunt against the Bolsonaristas in the army, [but] anything that could further fuel the bad blood between the generals and the administration will have dramatic political consequences for a president whose main task is to unite the country,” Casarões said.

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