Saturday, April 01, 2023|
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BRASILIA, Brazil — 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.
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.
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