Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians turned out in one of the biggest protests in the nation’s history in the capital of São Paulo on Sunday to demand the impeachment of socialist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Lula has become the subject of formal calls for impeachment in the wake of his comparisons of Israel’s policy to the holocaust.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments,” Lula told reporters during the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “It did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” he added.

As reported by Merco Press, Brazilian lawmakers submitted a resolution for Lula’s impeachment last week.

“Spearheaded by Congresswoman Carla Zambelli of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (PL), over 100 lawmakers have endorsed a document requesting the impeachment of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva because his remarks likening Israel to Nazi Germany compromised Brazil’s stance internationally exposing the country to a ‘danger of war,” the report noted.

“In addition to 72 PL deputies, other signatories stemmed from parties represented in Lula’s coalition cabinet, including 12 from União Brasil which has two ministries (Communication and Tourism), 4 from the PSD which runs three ministries (Agriculture, Mines and Energy, and Fisheries), and 3 from the MDB, which controls three ministries (Cities, Planning, and Transportation),” the report added.

The petition’s signatories argue that Lula “committed hostility against a foreign nation”, “compromised the neutrality” of the country, and exposed Brazil to a “danger of war”, as defined by Brazil’s Impeachment Law, in article 5, item 3.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu objected to Lula’s remarks. Netanyahu accused Lula of “trivializing the Holocaust and trying to harm the Jewish people and Israel’s right to defend itself” and added that “comparing Israel to the Nazi Holocaust and Hitler is crossing a red line.”

The Israeli prime minister added in a separate statement that Lula “has disgraced the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and demonized the Jewish state like the most virulent anti-Semite.”

Lula was declared “persona non grata” in Israel. Brazil ended all diplomatic relations with Israel and withdrew its ambassador, further exacerbating tensions between the nations.

São Paulo has erupted into mass protests at a level rarely seen in the nation’s history.

Adding to the controversy over Lula’s regime, a journalist from Portugal named Sergio Tavares was detained by police upon entering Brazil to cover the protests, Glenn Greenwald reported. Tavares had recently interviewed Brazilian opposition leader and former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Massive protests across Brazil also followed the controversial transfer of power from former President Bolsonaro to current President Lula da Silva in November.

“They arrived by the tens of thousands on Wednesday, angry and draped in Brazilian flags, massing outside military bases across the country,” the New York Times editorialized at the time. “They were there, they said, to save Brazil’s democracy from a rigged election, and there was only one way to do so: The armed forces needed to take control of the government.”

“I don’t understand it that well, but they have to intervene and hold new elections,” Andrea Vaz, 51, said, as reported in the Times. “Fraud in the voting machines!” a sign read at outside the Brazilian Army’s national headquarters in Brasília.

“We saw various videos. People giving out money, buying votes,” she added. “There’s proof.”

In a statement made at the time, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense said “the demonstrations, provided they are orderly and peaceful, are the exercise of freedom of expression, of thought, and of assembly, in accordance with constitutional principles and current laws.”


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