From Presidential House in Colombo to Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia in Brazil and Andean Mountains in Peru
Posted on February 5th, 2023

By Sena Thoradeniya

On January 8 supporters of ex-President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil invaded and pillaged Brazil’s Presidential Palace known as Planalto Palace regarded as a national treasure, designed by a modernist architect, along with the Congress building and Supreme Federal Courts. Protester’s shattered glass and burnt iconic furniture, ripped floors, broke windows and doors, vandalised priceless paintings and other art works, defaced portraits, decapacitated sculptures, all pieces of national heritage, scrawled graffiti across facades of buildings calling for a military intervention to remove the elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula.

All these monumental buildings held rich collections of art representing an important chapter in Brazil’s national history. One painting alone which was punctured in several places is worth at least $ 1.5 million. Rioters had flooded the floors and soaked carpets using fire hydrants and sprinkler systems.  As Galle Face protesters urinated into the swimming pool at the Presidential House, Brasilia’s protesters did not forget to urinate over the valuable carpets.  One fellow draped with the Brazilian flag from his neck to his feet sat in Senate President’s chair. Our fellows were far ahead than the Brazilian rioters as they held a Cabinet Meeting” at the Presidential Secretariat.

Although the Sri Lankan protesters were able to oust the elected President, Lula stands firm against the vandalisers and the security personnel who were in complicity with the protesters and Bolsonaro.  It was reported that Brazilian riots itself were unpopular with the majority of the Brazilians and as a result enhanced Lula’s popularity.

Our lethargic investigators, police, security forces, mandarins of the defense establishment and the judiciary still grope in darkness to assess what had actually happened in Colombo. Our curators and archaeologists still have not valued the damage done to government buildings by Sri Lankan rioters even after six months. Earlier there was a talk that artworks (forgetting the famous Mulkirigala painting allegedly pilfered by a son-in-law of a President and brother-in-law of a President in waiting”), colonial furniture and gifts presented by foreign dignitaries to Sri Lankan Heads of State were not catalogued and Sri Lanka’s Department of Archeology has no authority to carry out any investigation regarding the destroyed or vandalised artifacts. 

But Brazil’s National Artistic Heritage Institute within a few days, following a painstaking survey of ruins had prepared a 40-page report with a photographic catalogue of the damages.  Craftsmen at Senate Museum commenced restoration of priceless damaged treasures, paintings, sculptures, vases and furniture and within two weeks managed to restore more than 60% of the damaged objects.

Bolsonaro fled to Florida; US government granted him refuge; at the same time Biden tweeted condemning what had happened in Brazil.

Bolsonaro flew to Florida two days before Lula was inaugurated without officially handing over power. His absence marked a break with traditions as he was expected to handover the Presidential sash to President-elect Lula. As he was still officially President when he arrived in US his diplomatic status guaranteed his entry to US, a right reserved for Heads of State. He was actively involved in the riots.  Now Bolsonaro has applied for a 6-month visitor visa to stay in the US. There will be no denial. Recent reports confirm that Bolsonaro had addressed a group of right-wing activists at a Trump resort in Miami.

Why Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was denied this privilege as he was still the incumbent President when he left Sri Lanka? Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s fate was well known. It was reported that the US ambassador in Sri Lanka had refused him an entry permit to US, his adopted country before renouncing his US citizenship. Later Julie Chung found fault with Sri Lankan authorities for evacuating Galle Face merry men and women.

What the US authorities should understand is that the blueprint for attacks in Brasilia was provided by the Trump supporters’ coup attempt at Capitol Hill in January 6, 2001.  Supporters of Trump and Bolsonaro both alleged that the election was a fraud. Trump and Bolsonaro whose backers are known as Trump of Tropics”, both did not accept their defeats and challenged the validity of most of the electronic voting machines.

Riots erupted after Bolsanaro had posted a video questioning the validity of last years’ Presidential Elections. He refused to concede his defeat to Lula, accused against electronic voting machines and argued that the military should conduct its own audit of the result.

As Lula’s inauguration approached Bolsanaro’s supporters set up camps outside Brasilia’s main military compound and urged the military to restore Bolsanaro’s Presidency. But their main expectation was seizure of power by the military deposing Lula. It was thought that to stage a coup was easy as Lula lacked support inside the army.   

Sri Lankans should remember how JVPers cried computer jillmart” after the defeat of Sarath Fonseka whom they have supported at the 2020 Presidential elections. The then leader of the JVP, Somawansa Amerasinghe shamelessly embraced (wearing a three-piece suit) Ranil and Fonseka at a Presidential election meeting forgetting that Fonseka, the former Army Commander represented an instrument for the exploitation of the oppressed class” as Lenin taught. Had a Trump” invaded the Capitol Hill by that time definitely the JVPers would have run berserk, thanking the American imperialists for exporting” a novel method of insurrection”.  

Brazil rioters wore Brazil’s iconic yellow and green jerseys. Sri Lankan rioters wrapped themselves with the National Flags.    

Brazil rioters had camped outside a military headquarters in Brasilia since Bolsonaro lost the October 30 Presidential election. Sri Lankan rioters camped outside the Presidential Secretariat for months before storming the Presidential Secretariat, Presidential House and other government buildings.

Other rioters traveled to Brasilia in busses; in Sri Lanka train loads of rioters came from Kandy and Galle and others entered the City from the five main entry points; Security forces did not know what was happening; or were they in complicity with the rioters who thronged the city? In my previous essays I have dealt about the security lapses from the day the rioters besieged GR’s private residence at Mirihana. 

Brazilian rioters, who were extreme rightists alleged that Lula taking the country into Communism while in Sri Lanka, some rioters paid lip service to socialism”. We should not be alarmed by the word socialism” as Marx and Engels had outlined different types of socialism in their Manifesto of the CommunistParty” in 1847-48. The word Socialist” was scorned by JRJ naming Sri Lanka as a Democratic Socialist Republic”.

Like at Galle Face, Bolsonaro supporters had funded alternative media outlets. Now Brazilian authorities are tracking financial movements undertaken via online banking apps including Brazil’s Central Bank Pix which allows free of charge instant money transfers. It is said that Pix is used by 133 million Individuals as well as 12 million companies across Brazil. It has outpaced debit and credit card payments. Pix was used by blogs and YouTube channels supporting Bolsonaro.  

Sri Lankan protest leaders” and pro-Galle Face Youtubers received millions of rupees from dubious sources but our law enforcement officers failed to take action although the names of men and women leaders” who received such funds, the amounts they received and the banks in which funds were remitted were revealed during the height of the Galle Face Carnival. MNCs, oligarchical business conglomerates, communication giants and media moguls which funded the protesters were exposed but no action was taken against these funders.

But Brazilian authorities had identified the financiers of Brasilia riots. They had planned to take action against top management of more than 100 companies who fed the protesters and provided shelter and financial assistance to them. 

 Within a few days the authorities commenced a criminal probe into the insurrection” and more than 1300 were arrested, accused of crimes including terrorism and attempting a coup. Federal police had identified people who participated, funded and fostered the riots. They were investigated for violent abrogation of the rule of law, coup d’état, criminal association, damage, incitement and destruction of protected property. 

Sri Lankan security establishment should learn from Brazil how they conducted investigations immediately after the rampage. It won’t happen here as there were many intentional lapses in security that allowed the protesters in Sri Lanka to run berserk.

The slogans reverberated in Brasilia spewed venom and hatred against Lula as happened at Gall Face ghetto.

Still we have no direct evidence to say that the US was behind this rampage as in Peru which ousted Castillo. But Trump allies in the US have played a role in stoking riots, helping to map out plans and financing violence. Indirectly WhatsApp and Meta are responsible for social media disinformation and fomenting violence. Face Book repeatedly approved ads promoting deaththreats and violent anti-democratic ads. The threats were against Lula and the children of his supporters. Some ads encouraged people to storm government buildings and arm themselves. Misinformation about how the election was stolen circulated freely.  The same happened at Galle Face. Social media played a pivotal role in Sri Lankan riots and arson.

Biden administration had distanced from Brazil’s riots. Biden has invited Lula for a meeting on February 10. US used countries in Latin America as a testing ground of neoliberalism. Lula had rejected German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s appeal to send ammunition to German -made anti-aircraft guns used in Ukraine. We will have to wait and see what will happen next.

Before Bolsonaro lost the election to Lula, Le Monde” suggested that Brazil was going to see Bolsonarism without Bolsonaro”. It is evident that the plot was hatched beforehand.

Bolsonaro became President as a result of attacks against Lula and his successor Dilma Rousseff coordinated by the US. Three days after Dilma Rousseff was deposed arbitrarily in 2016 Vice President Joe Biden met with illegitimate President Michel Termer. Several Latin American countries refused to recognise Termer. Biden told Termer that he had the full support of Obama administration.

After Trump took office during 2018 elections Lula was arbitrarily imprisoned when he was leading over Bolsanaro. Lula was illegally prohibited of running for office from behind bars. Bolsanaro visited CIA headquarters immediately after taking office. After Biden took office National Security advisor flew to Brazil to meet Bolsanaro and his top Generals. CIA Director also paid a visit to Brazil.  

It was reported that on the day Mirihana private residence of GR was besieged Julie Chung visited GR’s Mirihana residence, got down on her knees and raised her hands to the sky. Saying that she is a Roman Catholic she prayed to her God to invoke relief to the President. She had apologised for what had happened that day and had prevented GR from evacuating protesters claiming that it would stall the IMF loan negotiations. After the protesters stormed his official residence, she denied him a visa to enter US.

There are many similarities between US funded coup in Peru and Sri Lanka’s protests. US Defense attaché in Lima (Peru) Alvarodo gave greenlight to Peru’s generals to arrest President Pedro Castillo in December. The last telephone call Castillo received before he left Presidential Palace came from the US Embassy. He was warned that he will be arrested or killed and told to flee to a friendly Embassy.  One day before the coup US Ambassador met with Peru’s Defense Minister and told the military to turn against Castillo. Castillo was arrested by the military when he and his family was rushing towards the Mexican Embassy.

It should be noted that Castillo was the first Peruvian President from a poor rural Andean background. He is a son of peasant farmers and a champion of poor and indigenous people. He defeated right-wing Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Peru’s imprisoned former President at the presidential elections. 

Due to pressure from the Peruvian oligarchy Castillo thought of temporarily dissolving the Congress and establishing an emergency government. Castillo had formed four different cabinets to appease the business sector conceding to right wing demands to remove left wing ministers. Same thing happened in Sri Lanka. GR had to shuffle the pack several times. He was openly challenged by his own palanquin bearers”. His plans in removing MR and BR and some other unpopular Pohottuwa Ministers and appointing RW as the Prime Minister all had failed.  

Castillo was imprisoned for 18 months without trial as instigated by CIA Agent Lisa Kenna, the US Ambassador in Lima. Lisa was regularly meeting with top Peruvian government officials, Dina Boluarte and her Ministers like Julie Chang.

It will be interesting to list down the people Julie Chung met before ousting GR and afterwards, politicians including AKD, Harini Amarasuriya, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Sajith P and many more, civil society” men and women, media menand women and free lancers. Some posed with Samantha Power. The list is too long. The latest was with Abraham Sumanthiran, Hakeem, Mano Ganeshan,Badiutheen and two more TULFers with Victoria Nuland, the ace international plotter who first visited Sri Lanka before the ouster of GR in attendance.

Peru is a mineral rich country. Its large resources of copper, gold, zinc, silver, lead, iron and natural gas have induced imperialists to grab Peru’s mineral resources. Europe is importing Peruvian LNG to replace Russian supplies. Soon after the overthrow of Castillo, US Ambassador met with Peru’s Mining and Energy Minister for talks on investment”.

Peru’s economy relies on mining which is controlled by biggest MNCs. Mining represents more than half of national exports and over 10% of its GDP. It is the second biggest copper producer in the world. Peru is rich with lithium considered by investment bankers as the new oil” important in global shift toward renewable energy technologies. To obtain Bolivia’s lithium in 2019 US staged a coup against Evo Morales.

Castillo wanted Peru’s natural resources to directly benefit Peruvians.  Castillo, a leftist union leader who campaigned wearing a farmer’s hat promised,no morepoor people in a rich country”; we want our natural resources to directly benefit the people”. He called to renegotiate mining contracts to ensure 70% of all proceeds from mining went to the State for social programmes. He said, let us be clear; those decades of betrayals, corruption and cynicism are the symptoms of this neoliberal system dedicated exclusively to the exploitation of our people and natural resources for the benefit of a few scoundrels”. Does this sound as utterings of an inexperienced political novice” as the Western press disparaged Castillo?

Western media belittled Castillo as a primary school teacher in the Andean highlands as a political novice, with no experience. Same tune was played against GR saying he was an inexperienced non-politician.

Castillo’s successor Dina Boluarte Peru’s 6 th President in 7 years and the first woman President of Peru was working at a regional office that issues identity cards.

Peru’s oligarchy called him a donkey”; made fun of his country accent.  They smashed Pinatas made to resemble Castillo at their high-end parties; a decorated figure of an animal containing toys and sweets suspended from a height and broken by blindfolded children, like our own Kana Muttiya Bindeema.

In our earlier writings we have given a detailed account of how GR was vilified by Galle Face protesters.

Also, in our earlier essays we have elaborated the various segments who participated in Galle Face protests. Peru’s oligarchy opposed Castillo. Peru’s protests are basically against the wealthy elite in the capital Lima.

Ironically Sri Lankan elite was in the forefront in ousting GR with the rest of the commoners” at the Galle Face ghetto. In contrast to Sri Lanka, Peru’s protests are in the countryside and the Andes Mountains.

Now Castillo is facing criminal charges against him after he tried to dissolve the legislature.

Since Castillo’s election to office his opponent in the Presidential election Fujimori and her cohorts tried to block his ascension. This was repeated in Brazil by Bolsonaro supporters, what Trumpists” exported from Capitol Hill.  Fujimori had close ties with the US government and its intelligence agencies. Before the Presidential Elections in 2021 US sent a CIA agent Lisa Kenna as its ambassador toLima.She met Peru’s Defense Minister and tweeted against Castillo’s decision to dissolve the Congress. This reminds us how Julie Chung was installed in Sri Lanka before the ouster of GR, her innumerable tweets meddling with internal affairs of Sri Lanka and finally ouster of GR. Kenna recognised Peru’s new government after Castillo’s removal.

Now Peru is in turmoil. Violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police had led to a death toll of around 60 people.  Castillo’s successor former Vice President, Dina Boluarte declared a state of emergency. Massive protests rocked Peru, demanding resignation of Boluarte and to advance elections due to be held in 2026. She refuses to resign amid political crisis.

Sri Lanka’s problems have become more severe despite ease in fuel and cooking gas supplies. Now dormant elements from time to time call for a repetition of the incidents that took place on the ninth day of the month. (May 9; July 9).

We do not know what Julie Chung had told GR when the Presidential House was stormed. He was given wrong information by his own Generals about the numbers who had besieged the Presidential House. Few hundred” the security top brass had told him. If he had not left the Presidential House at the right time either he would have been lynched by the protesters or arrested by his own security top brass. Truth with Chamuditha” blog interviewing an ex-army officer revealed recently that Chief of Defense Staff wished to replace GR as the President, that senior officers of the army were in complicity with Galle Face protesters, that the army did not carry out Commander-in-Chief’s orders.  Up to now nobody has challenged this or taken any legal action against the interviewee.  

The million-dollar question is why the autocratic” President, armed Dharmapala” as alleged by his erstwhile Viyathamaga” grandees was unable to protect himself and command his own security top brass!

Lula had dismissed over 50 military officers who were guarding the Presidential Palace and the National Security advisors Office, expressing his distrust in the military for failing to act against the protesters who ransacked government buildings. He said that security forces members were complicit in letting the protesters. Investigators had found intentional lapses in the security that allowed it to occur. 

Brazil police raided Brasilia’s Federal District Governor Rocha ’s house and offices, who was under investigations for failing to prevent the storming of Government buildings and other violent acts.  Rocha and Torres, the Secretary of Public Security of the Federal District who are staunch supporters of Bolsanaro were the two men responsible for public safety in Brasilia. Civil and military forces are controlled by the Governor and the Public Security Secretary. It was revealed that Brasilia’s military police opened the gates for the rioters. It is interesting to state that this man was the head of Brazilian Bar Association before becoming Governor. Remember that some informal leaders” of Galle Face ghetto wanted our own President of Bar Association to succeed GR! Torres was dismissed and Rocha has been suspended.

Two weeks after the rioting Lula sacked army commander. Lula said that he suspects members of the armed forces colluded with the protesters as the protesters stormed government buildings after marching unchallenged through the city. In Sri Lanka train loads of protesters came to the city commandeering trains unchallenged with the connivance of railway employees and courtesy of UNP politicians. 

Authorities in Brazil have investigated the role played by Bolsonaro in Brasilia’s riots. Have the Sri Lankan authorities investigated the role played by UNP, SJB, JVP, IUSF and other individuals such as Fonseka, Omalpe and Cardinal who were the godfathers of Sri Lankan protesters?

In Sri Lanka security lapses occurred from the day private residence of GR at Mirihana was besieged by the protesters on March 31, 2022. Security lapses continued on May 9 when hundreds of private residences of government politicians were torched by the protesters. Its culmination was July 9, when the security forces allowed the protesters to enter government buildings. Had GR and security forces took action at any one of these incidents GR would have remained as the President of Sri Lanka. During his presidency he was betrayed by his advisors. At the crucial stage he was betrayed by his own security establishment.

In Sri Lanka the government had no will to crackdown the rioters as the government tried to appease the western governments and NGOs. The government itself was responsible for the massive convergence of protesters later turned into rioters. 

If someone files action against the lapses of the security forces on these days all the top brass of the security establishment will have to answer at the highest court of law in Sri Lanka. Punishments meted out to ex-President Sirisena, ex-Defense Secretary, ex-IGP and another top-level officer had set up a successful case to follow.    

Lula said there are a lot of people who were complicit in this among the military police and armed forces. I am convinced that the door to the Presidential Palace was opened to allow these people in because I did not see that the door was broken”. Same thing happened in Sri Lanka. Police officers were seen mingling with those who stormed the public institutions and taking selfies.

Some police officers were not ashamed to play the piano at the Presidential House. We do not know any one of these officers were charged for complicity.

Lula said intelligence services failed ahead of riots. My intelligence did not exist that day. We have many intelligence services, Air Force intelligence, Brazil’s Intelligence Agency. None of them warned me.” I think that Lula had spoken on behalf of GR too. No politician in Sri Lanka has a spine to say this. Lula further said,” those who want to be involved in politics should take off the uniform, resign from office and then enter politics”.

Lula also criticised the army for not doing anything to stop a two-month old encampment of Bolsonaro supporters outside army headquarters where they clamoured for the military to overturn the election results. The attack was expected since the invaders had been staging demonstrations for days using social media. Galle Face protesters set up an urban ghetto at Galle Face Green and camped there for nearly three months.

GR should be blamed for this, for demarcating a protest site”, may be to appease the so-called international community and the NGO cabal, in front of his Secretariat.  We knew that the Galle Face protesters were ready to storm government buildings at any moment and the protest erupting into a violent uprising as protesters cannot remain in one place for a prolonged period of time; either fatigue, exhaustion, frustration or overenthusiasm will compel them to burst out. Military top brass should know this better than the laypersons.

Brazilian Government had ordered the arrest of top officials in the security forces including the former commander of the military police, former public security chief and others for acts of omission. Later police commander was dismissed. Bolsonaro’s ex-Justice Minister was arrested who was in charge of public security on suspicion of omission and connivance.  Lula purged Bolsonaro loyalists from Brazil’s security forces. Brazil’s supreme Courts had agreed to investigate whether Bolsonaro had incited the rioters.

Sri Lankan Justice Minister declared that he was a supporter of the so-called Aragalaya although he was physically not present at Galle Face. Many godfathers of Galle Face Protesters including Asu Marasinghe (now shamed), Sunil Ratnapriya, Sudharshana Gunawardena, Tennakone et al got top government positions when Ranil Wickremasinghe was elevated as the President. 

In Sri Lanka those armed personnel who witnessed torching of hundreds of houses belonging to government politicians and Ranil Wickremasinghe’s private residence, those who were mere onlookers when the rioters stormed the public institutions and occupied them for several days went scot free without facing any investigation.

Government MPs seeking a probe against security top brass should be given priority. It should be treated as how the judiciary had handled the Easter Sunday attack case. The Government should table in Parliament the Report of the Committee headed by Admiral of the Fleet (retd.) Wasantha Karannagoda    investigating May 9 violence.

But July 9 rampage will be buried in the sand unless the former President GR writes his Memoirs. No other person is privy to what had happened since that fair lady from Kolonnawa, daughter of a local baron”, staged a demonstration at Mirihana a few days before March 31.

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