Police in Brazil foils truck bomb planted to ‘sow chaos’ prior to the January 1 inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Police arrested the suspected bomber, a supporter of outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro who allegedly confessed his intention was to derail the transition
George Washington de Oliveira Sousa was arrested on Saturday for terrorism after the discovery of the device he planted under a truck
Truck’s driver found device on Saturday morning where da Silva will be on January 1
da Silva, 77, who was jailed on corruption charges, within three years engineered a stunning political comeback in October
The former two time president, won a runoff election with 50.9 percent over the 49.1 percent for by 67-year-old right-wing incumbent President, Jair Bolsonaro
Security police in Brazil have arrested a man after he allegedly placed explosives in a fuel truck – hoping to sow ‘chaos’ ahead of president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s inauguration.
George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, the man identified, was arrested on Saturday, 24 December, on terrorism charges and is a supporter of Brazil’s far-right outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro.
The arrest came after the truck’s driver found the device on Saturday morning in the capital city of Brasília, where Lula will be sworn in on January 1.
Although there was an attempt to activate the device, it did not explode, a civil police general delegate of Brasilia named Robson Candico said in a press conference.
Oliveira Sousa confessed to authorities that the bomb was part of a plan to ‘start chaos’ and ‘prevent the establishment of communism in Brazil,’ according to statements by the civil police published in local media.
He said the idea was hatched with other Bolsonaro supporters who have been protesting outside the army headquarters in Brasilia, calling for a military intervention to prevent Lula from assuming power.
The goal, Oliveira Sousa told police, was to place at least two explosives in strategic locations – with the aim of initiating a ‘declaration of a state of siege in the country’ and from there ‘provoking an intervention by the armed forces’.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro supporters blocked highways and demonstrated in front of army barracks around the country after Lula’s win in the October 30 presidential runoff.
Nearly two months later there are still camps in front of some military bases.
Police said they found an arsenal of weapons in the apartment of Oliveira Sousa, who works at a service station in the northern state of Para.
Oliveira Sousa said he was inspired to acquire the weapons ‘by President Bolsonaro’s words’, and had a cache worth about 160,000 reales ($31,000), according to Folha de Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro, a strong supporter of gun rights, has previously stated that ‘an armed people will never be enslaved.’
According to statements, Oliveira Sousa planned to distribute the weapons among those camping in front of barracks, the paper said.
Lula, a 77-year-old leftist who already served as president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, will assume power for the third time with a grand inauguration in Brasilia.
The previously disgraced politician, in just three years, has gone from prisoner to president-elect.
da Silva who was jailed on corruption charges, engineered a stunning political resurrection in October, winning Brazil’s presidential runoff election 50.9 percent over the 49.1 percent garnered by 67-year-old right-wing incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.
Brazil’s last presidential election which was extremely tight race – going into a runoff – showed how politically polarized the country has become in recent years. Although the balloting was largely peaceful, there were several incidents of violence were recorded during the campaign. Authorities reporting the killings of at least four da Silva supporters at the hands of pro-Bolsonaro fanatics.
The odyssey of Bolsonaro a populist and polarizing Trump-like figure, may explain the style of his politics. The 67-year-old who served as an army captain during Brazil’s military dictatorship that lasted from 1964-85, filled his cabinet with former officers.
He repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the election and the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting machines and hinted that he might not accept the results if he lost.
His anti-democratic rhetoric alarmed many Brazilians, as against the messaging of the challenger who promised a return to normality.