Supreme Court cuts reinstates Brasília governor

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Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court justice overseeing investigations into the Brasília riots, on Wednesday reinstated Brasília Governor Ibaneis Rocha, effective immediately. 

The justice had suspended Mr. Rocha for 90 days on January 8 — just hours after far-right radicals stormed and ransacked government buildings in the capital. Local authorities under Mr. Rocha’s command failed to respond to the threats from pro-Bolsonaro groups — and were accused by multiple political actors of condoning the acts of violence by their inaction.

The ruling, however, doesn’t clear Mr. Rocha from an ongoing investigation into his possible role in allowing the riots to take place by ignoring intelligence that the far-right groups intended to stage a riot — despite information that supporters of the former president were being bussed into the capital. 

The local authorities’ nonchalance is staggering when one considers violent episodes in the lead-up to the riots. On the night of December 12, pro-Bolsonaro groups attempted to break into the Federal Police headquarters and torched vehicles on the capital’s streets. On Christmas Eve, the police discovered a bomb plot aimed at creating unrest and enabling the previous administration, led by Jair Bolsonaro, to place Brazil under a state of emergency and prevent the transition of power.

Brasília’s former top security official, Anderson Torres, was arrested in January — accused of intentionally neglecting his duty to plan a security response and facilitating the attacks.

On social media, calls for violence were abundant and explicit. (The fact that platforms were so instrumental to the organization of the violent acts has sparked calls for tighter regulation of platforms.)

Justice Moraes says he decided to lift the suspension because Mr. Rocha’s reinstatement no longer comes with the threat of him tampering with the investigation. 

On January 1, Mr. Rocha kicked off his second term — following a landslide re-election win in October 2022. The governor was working behind the scenes to return sooner than the original April 8 deadline, fearing that his lieutenant, Celina Leão, would whip up support in the local legislature to replace him for good. Local lawmakers are conducting a select panel on the riots, which has flown massively under the radar.

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