Haunted by post-election riot, Brazil’s Lula reins in army
When rioters stormed Brazil’s top government buildings in January to dispute the outcome of the presidential election, many soldiers stood by as far-right protesters broke windows, defecated in offices and destroyed valuable art. The images from Brasilia that day still haunt the left-leaning government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He has strived ever since to ensure that military leaders defend South America’s largest democracy and stay out of politics. The threat isn't just hypothetical. Brazil has lived through four military coups – the most recent one in 1964, followed by two decades of brutal dictatorship. Also Read: Bolsonaro says he may return to Brazil in the coming weeks Lula’s task is fraught. The military is filled with supporters of ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, and its role in the new government is being diminished by the day. Lula has already tapped more than 100 civilians to replace military officers Bolsonaro appointed to key positions, and he has moved oversight of the country's intelligence agency to his chief of staff's office, among other changes. “Lula needed to manage his relationship with the military to be able to govern, and will continue to do so,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo. Melo said Brazil's military has long believed that it has "some kind of guardianship of the country’s political process," and Bolsonaro only fueled that belief. Also Read: Brazil deluge toll hits 44 as search continues for missing Bolsonaro, a former army captain, appointed more than 6,000 military officers to jobs across his government and revived an annual commemoration of the 1964 coup to stoke nostalgia for the days of military rule. Although that era was marked by human rights abuses and the loss of civil liberties, Bolsonaro and many of his supporters remember it fondly as a time of strong nationalism, economic growth and conservative values. They view Lula's efforts to tame the military as heavy-handed and misguided. “Stop looking through the rearview mirror and govern for all Brazilians,” Bolsonaro's former vice president, Gen. Hamilton Mourão, who is now a senator, said in an interview. The most significant move Lula has made so far has been to elevate Gen. Tomás Paiva to be the army’s top commander. Paiva, 62, has pledged to keep soldiers out of politics and to respect the results of October’s election, in which Lula beat Bolsonaro by a razor-thin margin. Yet Paiva has also acknowledged that most the military’s leaders voted for Bolsonaro, and he lamented Lula’s victory to subordinates just three days before the new president called to offer him the promotion — comments he later said were misinterpreted. Lula has taken various other steps aimed inoculating Brazil from the risk of another violent uprising with at least tacit support from some in the military: — He blocked the appointment of a Bolsonaro loyalist to command the Goiania battalion, based an uncomfortably close 124 miles from the capital. — He placed the country’s intelligence agency — formerly overseen by members of the military — under the office of his chief of staff, which is led by civilians. — He took a symbolically important trip to the U.S., which before the election had warned Brazilian military leaders to steer clear of politics if they wanted access to arms purchases and cooperation from American armed forces. For now, there is no evidence of another uprising being planned or of military leaders questioning Lula's orders, according to a high-ranking official in the army and a person who works closely with the defense minister, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly. Lula enlisted the military’s cooperation twice in February: as part of a massive operation to expel some 20,000 illegal miners from the Yanomami Indigenous area in Brazil’s Amazon, and to help rescue people after mudslides near Sao Paulo. These represented early tests of the relationship between Lula and the military, and the results were very positive, said political consultant Thomas Traumann. Still, there's no guarantee of long-term stability, he said. It remains to be seen whether military retirees and active duty service members who either took part in the Jan. 8 riots or turned a blind eye to them will receive punishment. Some analysts believe that would be important to deter future action. One video from Jan. 8 showed policemen at the presidential palace in the rare position of barking orders at soldiers: “Lead your troops!” one officer shouted at members of the presidential guard, which is part of the army. Another video showed dozens of rioters surrounded by police in the palace, as a general attempts to free them. “Are you nuts?” a policeman asks. “They’re in custody!” Hundreds of civilians who participated in the riots have been jailed and dozens indicted. But service members have so far been spared. The military prosecutors’ office and the top military court have opened 17 investigations, although neither has been transparent about the process. The incoming Chief Justice of Brazil’s Superior Military Court, Joseli Camelo, said he was encouraged recently when the army canceled a plan to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of the 1964 military coup, a dictatorship-era tradition that Bolsonaro revived. “This is just another demonstration that the commander is aligned with all the powers towards our common challenge, which is to pacify Brazil and definitively reinforce democracy in our country,” Camelo said. Mourão, Bolsonaro's former vice president, says the military should not spare any of its members who are proven guilty of taking part in the riots. “The armed forces are shaped to be rigorous in the investigation of disciplinary errors and military crimes,” he said. Even before taking office in January, Lula — who served as president from 2003-2010 — knew it was essential for him to bolster ties with the country’s right-leaning military. Some highly regarded military leaders had openly derided him before the election, and some even campaigned to reelect Bolsonaro. For months, the army permitted anti-Lula protesters who were openly supportive of a military coup against him to camp outside their barracks. In Lula’s first two presidential terms, his relationship with the military was marked by conciliation rather than confrontation, said Fabio Victor, a journalist who just published a best-selling book on Brazil’s armed forces and politics. But Jan. 8 appears to have altered his calculus. In contrast with Bolsonaro's administration, few members of the armed forces work at the presidential palace, Victor said. With an eye toward the future, Lula's allies in Congress are pushing for constitutional changes that would more clearly define the military's powers and limits, and his ministers are looking at overhauling military education. “Lula today is very suspicious of the military,” Victor said.
Brazil deluge toll hits 44 as search continues for missing
The death toll from flooding and landslides in Brazil’s southern state of Sao Paulo reached 44 on Tuesday as searches continued for dozens still missing. Most of the search was concentrated in the mountainous coastal municipality of Sao Sebastiao where 43 deaths have been recorded. Firefighters still hoped to find people alive in the rubble of houses slammed by landslides during a weekend deluge, said Sao Sebastiao city hall worker Pedro de Rosario. “Hope is the last thing that dies, so we have a lot of hope," de Rosario said. “There are still people buried.” Seven bodies have been identified and released for burial, while nearly 800 people are homeless and 1,730 people have been displaced, the Sao Paulo state government said in a statement. Members of the armed forces joined the search and rescue efforts, and starting Thursday the Navy will build a hospital with up to 300 beds to help relief efforts, Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas said at a news conference in Sao Sebastiao on Tuesday. Authorities are digging through the mud and clearing roads, but parts of the highway connecting Rio de Janeiro state with Sao Paulo’s port city of Santos are still blocked by landslides. Another road connecting the city of Bortiga to inland Sao Paulo remains completely blocked. Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the region on Monday. In remarks to reporters, he called for people living in the hillside areas to be relocated to safer regions. Precipitation in Sao Sebastiao surpassed 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) during a 24-hour period over the weekend, among the largest such downpours ever in such a short period in Brazil. Around 7.5 tons of aid items including food, water and hygiene kits have already been distributed to the victims, the state government of Sao Paulo said. The affected area, on the northern coast of Sao Paulo state and famous for beach resorts flanked by mountains, is a frequent Carnival destination for wealthy tourists who prefer to stay away from massive street parties in big cities.
Heavy rains leave 36 dead in Brazil
Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides that have killed 36 people in Brazil’s north Sao Paulo state, officials said Sunday, and the fatalities could rise. Sao Paulo state government said in a statement that 35 died in the city of Sao Sebastiao and a 7-year-old girl was killed in neighboring Ubatuba. The cities of Sao Sebastiao, Ubatuba, Ilhabela and Bertioga, some of the hardest hit and now under state of calamity, canceled their Carnival festivities as rescue teams struggle to find missing, injured and feared dead in the rubble. “Our rescue teams are not managing to get to several locations; it is a chaotic situation,” said Felipe Augusto, the mayor of Sao Sebastiao. Later, he added there are dozens of people missing and that 50 houses collapsed in the city due to the landslides. Augusto posted on social media several videos of widespread destruction in his city, including one of baby being rescued by locals lined up on a flooded street. Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Twitter he will visit the region Monday. Sao Paulo state government said in a statement that precipitation in the region has surpassed 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) in one day, one of the highest amounts ever in Brazil in such a short period. Also Read: Bolsonaro says he may return to Brazil in the coming weeks Bertioga alone had 687 millimeters during that period, the state government said. Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas said in a statement he requested support from the army, which sent two airplanes and rescue teams to the region. TV footage showed houses flooded with only the roof visible. Residents are using small boats to carry items and people to higher positions. A road that connects Rio de Janeiro to the port city of Santos was blocked by landslides and floodwaters. The northern coast of Sao Paulo state is a frequent Carnival destination for wealthy tourists who prefer to stay away from massive street parties in big cities.
FBCCI partners with Brazilian counterpart to boost trade
A Memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been inked between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEXBRASIL) at the headquarters of ApexBrasil in Brazil recently to boost bilateral trade relations. FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin and ApexBrasil Business Director Ana Paula Repezza inked the pact on behalf of their respective organisations, according to an FBCCI press release signed by Tanzid Basunia, head of Public Relations and Communications of the business organisation. Bangladesh and Brazil will work together for the further expansion of bilateral trade relations while the both sides will also support the industries under joint venture and joint collaboration. As per the deal, the FBCCI and ApexBrasil will exchange information about the economic development of the countries to usher possibilities for increasing trade and for the expansion of economic and industrial cooperation among the enterprises and organisations. The organisations will cooperate in the sharing of best practices, information, knowledge, methodologies, and expertise on trade promotion and investment attraction. Read more: Bangladesh seeks Brazilian investment in energy, infrastructure, ICT sectors Apart from this, they will share ideas and experiences in relation to supporting and facilitating the exchange between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), startups, incubation centers, research institutes, investors and other relevant stakeholders of both the countries. The countries will assist and facilitate visits of trade and economic delegations to the other countries and will render maximum cooperation for establishing business contacts.
Germany pledges $222 million for Brazil environment, Amazon
German development minister Svenja Schulze announced Monday that her government will make 204 million euros ($222 million) available for environmental policies in Brazil. Of this total, $38 million is a donation to the Amazon Fund, Schulze told reporters in capital Brasilia. It is the most important international cooperation effort to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and is mostly funded by Norway. In 2019, former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who considered the Amazon an internal affair, dissolved the steering committee that selects sustainable projects to finance. In reaction, Germany and Norway froze their donations. “With the new government and the team of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and (environment) minister Marina Silva, we have a great chance to protect the forest and to offer a new perspective to the people who live there,” Schulze said. Under Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil's Amazon reached a 15-year high as he dismantled environmental protection policies in favor of agribusiness expansion. Germany also pledged to provide $87 million in low-interest loans for farmers to restore degraded areas and $34 million for Amazon states to protect the rainforest. “Despite all the difficulties, the increase in deforestation, the land grabbing, the fires, the dire state of the Indigenous populations, we see this as an opportunity to reverse this whole situation,” Silva said during the press conference. Read more: In Brazil’s Amazon, rivers rise to record levels Lula, who took office in January, pledged to end all deforestation by 2030. His four-year term ends in December 2026. The Amazon, which covers an area twice the size of India, acts as a buffer against climate change because its trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, and roughly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil. It is also the most biodiverse forest in the world and holds 20% of the world’s fresh water.
Brazil's Bolsonaro applies for 6-month visitor visa to stay in US
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has filed a request for a six-month visitor visa to stay in the U.S., indicating he may have no immediate intention of returning home, where legal issues await. The application was first reported by The Financial Times, citing Bolsonaro's immigration lawyer, Felipe Alexandre. Contacted by The Associated Press, the lawyer's firm, AG Immigration, confirmed the report. Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida on Dec. 30, two days before the inauguration of his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The ceremony proceeded without incident, but a week later thousands of Bolsonaro's die-hard supporters stormed the capital and trashed the top government buildings demanding that Lula's election be overturned. Bolsonaro is being investigated for whether he had any role in inciting that uprising. It is just one of several probes targeting the former president and that pose a legal headache upon his eventual homecoming, and which could strip him of his eligibility in future races — or worse. Read more: Brazil authorities seek to punish pro-Bolsonaro rioters For the first time in his more than three-decade political career as a lawmaker then as president, he no longer enjoys the special legal protection that requires any trial be held at the Supreme Court. It has been widely assumed — though not confirmed — that Bolsonaro entered the U.S. on an A-1 visa reserved for sitting heads of state. If so, he would have 30 days from the end of his presidential term to either leave the U.S. or adjust his status with the Department of Homeland Security. Meantime, the shape of his political future and his potential return to Brazil has been a matter of rumor and speculation. Bolsonaro's calculus appears to be to distance himself from the radicals whose destruction in the capital could implicate him in the short term, with the aim of some day returning to lead the opposition, said Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors. “He is giving it some time, staying away a bit from the country at a moment when he can begin to suffer legal consequences for his supporters’ attitudes,” said Lima. “I don’t think the fact of him staying away is enough. The processes will continue, but maybe he thinks he can at least avoid some sort of revenge punishment.” Bolsonaro has been staying in a home outside Orlando, Florida, and video has shown him snapping photos with supporters in the gated community and ambling around inside a supermarket. In the wake of the rampage in the Brazilian capital this month, a group of 46 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden demanding Bolsonaro’s visa be revoked. “The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” they wrote. Bolsonaro's son, a senator, told reporters at an event this weekend that he was not sure when his father would return to Brazil. "It could be tomorrow, it could be in six months, he might never return. I don't know. He's relaxing,” Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro said. Read more: 5 questions on Bolsonaro supporters storming Brazil's Congress Asked whether Bolsonaro has filed any request for documentation or help with visa processses, Brazil’s foreign ministry referred AP to U.S. authorities. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services referred AP to the State Department, which has repeatedly declined comment to questions about Bolsonaro’s visa status in the U.S.
Brazil’s President Lula fires army chief in aftermath of capital uprising by far-right protesters
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fired Brazil’s army chief Saturday just days after the leftist leader openly said that some military members allowed the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters. The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda had been 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 did not comment publicly on the firing, met with Defense Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa and the new army commander in Brasilia at the end of the day. Speaking to journalists afterward, Mucio said the Jan. 8 riots had caused “a fracture in the level of trust” in the army’s top levels and the government decided a change was needed. Read more: Brazil charges dozens in pro-Bolsonaro riots; more expected In recent weeks, Lula targeted the military with criticism after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed through government buildings and destroyed public property in an attempt to keep Bolsonaro in office. The uprising underlined the polarization in Brazil between the left and the right. Lula said several times in public that there were definitely people in the army who allowed the rioting to occur, though he never cited Arruda. During a breakfast with the press, Lula said earlier this week that “a lot of people from the military police and the armed forces were complicit” and had allowed protesters to enter the buildings with open doors. In another interview, the president said that “all the military involved in the coup attempt will be punished, no matter the rank.” The comments were followed by Lula scheduling several meetings with the defense minister and the armed forces’ commanders. Mucio denied they had mentioned the Jan. 8 rioting, but he said relations between the military and the government needed adjustment. On the eve of Arruda’s firing, a video of a Paiva speech earlier in the week was released in which he said the election results should be respected in order to guarantee democracy. Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brasilia sought to have the military intervene and overturn Bolsonaro’s loss to Lula in the presidential election. Read more: Days before new president, old divisions tearing at Brazil In a video posted on social media from inside the presidential palace on the day of the attack, a colonel is seen trying to stop police from arresting Bolsonaro’s supporters who had invaded the building. He asks for patience from the military police, which report to the federal district’s government. More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the riot and the morning after the disturbance, which bore strong similarities to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Congress by mobs who wanted to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss. A Brazilian Supreme Court justice earlier this month authorized adding Bolsonaro in its investigation into who incited the rioting in Brasilia as part of a broader crackdown to hold responsible parties to account. According to the text of his ruling, Justice Alexandre de Moraes granted the request from the prosecutor-general’s office, which cited a video that Bolsonaro posted on Facebook two days after the riot. The video claimed Lula wasn’t voted into office, but rather was chosen by the Supreme Court and Brazil’s electoral authority. Lula has been trying to reduce the high number of military officers in the government administration left by Bolsonaro. At least 140 military officers have been dismissed since Lula took office Jan. 1.
Dani Alves arrested in Spain for alleged sexual assault
Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves was arrested Friday after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Spain. The alleged act took place on Dec. 31 at a night club in Barcelona, police told The Associated Press. Alves will now go before a judge, who will decide on the charges. The charge of sexual assault in Spain can mean anything from unsolicited and unwanted sexual groping to rape. Police said they could give no detail on the case. Read more: Neymar loses Brazil captaincy to Dani Alves for Copa America The 39-year-old Alves is one of soccer’s most successful players, winning major titles with several elite clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain over his long career. He currently plays with Mexican club Pumas. The defender was a key part of Barcelona’s golden years playing between 2008-2016 on the team’s right flank with Lionel Messi. He won the Champions League three times with the Catalan club, which he briefly rejoined last season.
Top Brazil court greenlights probe of Bolsonaro for riot
A Brazilian Supreme Court justice on Friday authorized an investigation of whether former president Jair Bolsonaro incited the Jan. 8 riot in the nation’s capital, as part of a broader crackdown to hold responsible parties to account. According to the text of his ruling, Justice Alexandre de Moraes granted the request from the prosecutor-general's office, which cited a video Bolsonaro posted on Facebook two days after the riot. The video claimed Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wasn't voted into office, but rather was chosen by the Supreme Court and Brazil's electoral authority. Prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat anti-democratic acts argued earlier Friday that, although Bolsonaro posted the video after the riot, its content was sufficient to justify investigating his conduct beforehand. Bolsonaro deleted it the morning after he first posted it. Otherwise, Bolsonaro has refrained from commenting on the election since his Oct. 30 defeat. He repeatedly stoked doubt about the reliability of the electronic voting system in the run-up to the vote, filed a request afterward to annul millions of ballots cast using the machines and never conceded. He has taken up residence in an Orlando suburb since leaving Brazil in late December and skipping the Jan. 1 swearing-in of his leftist successor, and some Democratic lawmakers have urged President Joe Biden to cancel his visa. Read more: Roots of the Brazilian capital’s chaotic uprising Following the justice's decision late Friday, Bolsonaro’s lawyer Frederick Wassef said in a statement that the former president “vehemently repudiates the acts of vandalism and destruction” from Jan. 8, but blamed supposed “infiltrators” of the protest — something his far-right backers have also claimed. The statement also said Bolsonaro “never had any relationship or participation with these spontaneous social movements.” Brazilian authorities are investigating who enabled Bolsonaro's radical supporters to storm the Supreme Court, Congress and presidential palace in an attempt to overturn results of the October election. Targets include those who summoned rioters to the capital or paid to transport them, and local security personnel who may have stood aside to let the mayhem occur. Much of the attention thus far has focused on Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, who became the federal district’s security chief on Jan. 2, and was in the U.S. on the day of the riot. De Moraes ordered Torres’ arrest this week and has opened an investigation into his actions, which he characterized as “neglect and collusion.” In his decision, which was made public Friday, de Moraes said that Torres fired subordinates and left the country before the riot, an indication that he was deliberately laying the groundwork for the unrest. The court also issued an arrest warrant for the former security chief, and he must return within three days or Brazil will request his extradition, Justice Minister Flávio Dino said Friday. “If by next week his appearance hasn’t been confirmed, of course we will use mechanisms of international legal cooperation. We will trigger procedures next week to carry out his extradition,” Dino said. Torres has denied wrongdoing, and said Jan. 10 on Twitter that he would interrupt his vacation to return to Brazil and present his defense. Three days later, that has yet to occur. The minister pointed to a document that Brazilian federal police found upon searching Torres' home; a draft decree that would have seized control of Brazil's electoral authority and potentially overturned the election. The origin and authenticity of the unsigned document are unclear, and it remains unknown if Bolsonaro or his subordinates took any steps to implement the measure that would have been unconstitutional, according to analysts and the Brazilian academy of electoral and political law. Read more: Pro-Bolsonaro rioters storm Brazil’s top government offices But the document “will figure in the police investigation, because it even more fully reveals the existence of a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said, adding that Torres will need to inform police who drafted it. By failing to initiate a probe against the document's author or report its existence, Torres at very could be charged with dereliction of duty, said Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors. Torres said on Twitter that the document was probably found in a pile along with others intended for shredding, and that it was leaked out of context feed false narratives aimed at discrediting him. Dino told reporters Friday morning that no connection has yet been established between the capital riot and Bolsonaro. The federal district’s former governor and former military police chief are also targets of the Supreme Court investigation made public Friday. Both were removed from their positions after the riot. Also on Friday night, the popular social media accounts of several prominent right-wing figures were suspended in Brazil in response to a court order, which journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained and detailed on a live social media broadcast. The order, also issued by Justice de Moraes, was directed at six social media platforms and established a two-hour deadline to block the accounts or face fines. The accounts belong to a digital influencer, a YouTuber recently elected federal lawmaker, a podcast host in the mold of Joe Rogan, and an evangelical pastor and senator-elect, among others.
Rioters in Brazil plotted openly online, pitched huge ‘party’
The map was called “Beach Trip” and was blasted out to more than 18,000 members of a public Telegram channel called, in Portuguese, “Hunting and Fishing.” But instead of outdoor recreation tips, the 43 pins spread across the map of Brazil pointed to cities where bus transportation to the capital could be found for what promoters promised would a huge “party” on Jan. 8. “Children and the elderly aren’t invited,” according to the post circulated on the Telegram channel, which has since been removed. “Only adults willing to participate in all the games, including target shooting of police and robbers, musical chairs, indigenous dancing, tag, and others.” The post was one of several thinly coded messages circulating on social media ahead of Sunday’s violent attack on the capital by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro looking to restore the far-right leader to power. It’s also now a potentially vital lead in a fledgling criminal investigation about how the rampage was organized and how officials missed clues to a conspiracy that, like the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol two years ago, appears to have been organized and carried out in plain view. And like the attack in the U.S., the Brazilian riots demonstrate how social media makes it easier than ever for anti-democratic groups to recruit followers and transform online rhetoric into offline action. On YouTube, rioters livestreaming the mayhem racked up hundreds of thousands of views before a Brazilian judge ordered social media platforms to remove such content. Misleading claims about the election and the uprising also could be found on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. But even before Sunday’s riot, social media and private messaging networks in Brazil were being flooded with calls for one final push to overturn the October election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — something authorities appear to have inexplicably missed or ignored. Most of the online chatter referred to the planned gathering at Brasilia’s Three Powers Plaza as “Selma’s party” — a play on the Portuguese word for “selva,” a battle cry used by Brazil’s military. Participants were told to bring their own mask to protect against “pepper pie in the face” — or pepper spray fired by security forces. They also were told to dress in the green and yellow of Brazil’s flag — and not the red preferred by Lula’s Workers’ Party. “Get ready guests, the party will be a blast,” the widely-circulated post said. “It was all in the open,” said David Nemer, a Brazil native and University of Virginia professor who studies social media. “They listed the people responsible for buses, with their full names and contact information. They weren’t trying to hide anything.” Still, it’s unclear to what extent social media was responsible for the worst attack on Brazil’s democracy in decades. Only a handful of far-right activists showed up at gas terminals and refineries that were also pinpointed on the “Beach Trip” map as locations for demonstrations planned for Sunday. Bruno Fonseca, a journalist for Agencia Publica, a digital investigative journalism outlet, has tracked the online activities of pro-Bolsonaro groups for years. He said the activists live in a state of constant confrontation but sometimes, their frequent calls to mobilize fall flat. “It’s difficult to know when something will jump out from social media and not,” said Fonseca, who in a report this week traced the spread of the “Selma’s Party” post to users who appear to be bots. Still, he said, authorities could have paired the online activity with other intelligence-gathering tools to investigate, for example, a surge in bus traffic to the capital before the attacks. He said their inaction may reflect negligence or the deep support for Bolsonaro among security forces. One gnawing question is why, on the day of the chaos, Anderson Torres, a Bolsonaro ally who had just been named the top security official in Brasilia, was reportedly in Florida — where his former boss was on a retreat. Torres was swiftly fired and Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered his arrest pending an investigation. Torres denied any wrongdoing and said he would return to Brazil and present his defense. Sunday’s violence came after Brazilian voters were bombarded by a flood of false and misleading claims before last fall’s vote. Much of the content focused on unfounded concerns about electronic voting, and some featured threats of violent retaliation if Bolsonaro was defeated. One of the most popular rallying cries used by Bolsonaro’s supporters was #BrazilianSpring, a term coined by former Trump aide Steve Bannon in the hours after Bolsonaro’s defeat to Lula. “We all know that this Brazilian election was going to be contentious,” said Flora Rebello Arduini, a London-based campaign director with SumOfUs, a nonprofit that tracked extremist content before and after Brazil’s election. “Social media platforms played a vital role in amplifying far-right extremist voices and even calls for violent uprising. If we can identify this kind of content, then so can they (the companies). Incompetence is not an excuse.” Brazil’s capital city steeled itself Wednesday for the possibility of new attacks fueled by social media posts, including one circulating on Telegram calling for a “mega protest to retake power.” But those protests fizzled. In response to the criticism, spokespeople for Telegram, YouTube and Facebook said their companies were working to remove content urging more violence. “Telegram is a platform for free speech and peaceful protest,” Telegram spokesman Remi Vaughn wrote in a statement to the AP. “Calls to violence are explicitly forbidden and dozens of public communities where such calls were being made have been blocked in Brazil in the past week — both proactively as per our Terms of Service as well as in response to court orders.” A YouTube spokeswoman said the platform has removed more than 2,500 channels and more than 10,000 videos related to the election in Brazil. Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has prioritized efforts to combat harmful content about Brazil’s election, a company spokesman told The Associated Press.