Man Arrested For Allegedly Planting Explosives In Capital Before Presidential Inauguration In Brazil

(Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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A Brazilian man has been arrested on suspicion of planting explosives at Brasilia International Airport in order to stop the inauguration of President-elect Lula da Silva.

Fifty-four year-old George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, a gas station manager, was arrested Saturday for allegedly planting and possessing explosives at the airport, Police Chief Robson Cândido said during a press conference, according to CNN. De Oliveira Sousa allegedly said he wanted to “create chaos” and a “siege state” in Brazil to prevent da Silva from taking office in January.

Police found an explosive device in a tanker truck close to the airport that was initially discovered by a truck driver, and later found five additional explosive devices, a rifle, two shotguns, several revolvers and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in de Oliveira Sousa’s Brasilia apartment. The suspect told police he sought “to prevent the establishment of communism in Brazil,” according to documents seen by CNN.

Sousa is believed to have arrived in Brasilia to join other Bolsonaro supporters on Oct. 12. He said he was inspired by the outgoing president and spent more than $30,000 on weapons and ammunition, CNN reported. Lula’s incoming Justice Minister Flavio Dino said the incident proved that the “so-called ‘patriotic’ camps have become incubators of terrorists.”

Da Silva, a socialist who served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, defeated outgoing right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro by a margin of less than two percent in October’s elections. The popular progressive leader was convicted on corruption charges in 2017 and served nearly two years in jail until being released in 2019 following a Supreme Court ruling, CNN reported. Supporters accused the trial of being a sham put on by Lula’s political opposition.

Lula is set to be sworn in on Jan. 1.