Brazil’s Lula loses 1st minister after images during riot

SAO PAULO (AP) — President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva lost his first Cabinet member Wednesday after surveillance video showed the man present in the presidential palace as rioters trashed the building Jan. 8 while demanding the president’s ouster.

Lula’s communications secretariat wrote on Twitter that Gen. Marcos Edson Gonçalves Dias had been removed as head of the Cabinet of institutional security, which provides security for the president.

He was replaced by Ricardo Capelli, who had been security chief for Brasilia in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 uprising.

Images broadcast by CNN Brasil earlier Wednesday showed Dias milling about and opening doors rather than arresting invaders that day. The video also shows another official shaking hands with a group of rioters and giving a thumbs-up to another, all of whom supported Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

Members of the opposition reacted to the images by saying they are evidence that Lula’s administration allowed Bolsonaro’s boosters to destroy government buildings one week after the leftist leader’s inauguration to incriminate them.

Dias is a personal friend of Lula’s, having formed part of on his security team during his two first terms as president in 2003-2010.

He told GloboNews television network Wednesday that he was removing people from the third and fourth floors of the presidential palace and directing them to the second floor, where arrests were taking place.

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