Milei’s government tight-lipped about January 8 rioters seeking asylum in Argentina

By June 27, 2024

Buenos Aires, Argentina – While reports continue to surface in the press about Brazilians convicted of crimes related to the January 8, 2023 attacks on their government headquarters seeking asylum in Argentina, President Javier Milei’s government has remained cautious, insisting that there is no “pact of impunity” with the convicted criminals. 

Brazilian media, including UOL and CNN Brasil, have reported that Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed a list of over 60 of the 143 convicted Brazilians that are wanted by Brazilian law enforcement. The media outlets said the information was transmitted by the Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires, and allegedly confirmed in off-the-record conversations with Argentine officials. 

Read more: 65 people charged with crimes related to Jan. 8 attacks on Brazil’s government fled to Argentina: Brazil Police

Officials contacted by Argentina Reports within Argentina’s migration authority declined to comment on details of the potential asylum seeking because they’re not authorized to speak about any potential pending requests. Officials insisted it was their responsibility to protect personal data, which includes any political asylum request “wherever and whomever it comes from,” they argued. 

Argentina Reports also contacted a representative from Argentina’s Foreign Ministry to confirm if they shared the data about asylum seekers with Brazilian officials and they did not respond. 

According to CNN Brasil, citing the report from Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, of the 143 people convicted in the January 8 attacks, 76 tried to escape justice in Argentina. Sixty-two of these people managed to enter Argentina, one person was denied entry, and 13 have already left.

Brazil has yet to activate an Interpol red notice for the convicted fugitives, which would allow law enforcement around the world to arrest them and extradite them to Brazil. 

The wanted Brazilians argue that they’re being politically persecuted by the left-wing government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who beat former right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro in October 2022 elections — the basis for the attacks on Brazil’s government headquarters by Bolsonaro supporters the following January. 

It is believed that the Brazilians fled to Argentina following the election of Javier Milei, a Libertarian firebrand who is ideologically aligned with Bolsonaro. In an interview with UOL, one of the few Brazilians seeking asylum to be interviewed bellowed, “Viva la libertad, carajo!” (Long live freedom, damn it!), a popular refrain from Milei. 

According to local press, Lula’s government isn’t sure how Milei’s will respond to the asylum requests. 

On June 7, one day before the first reports of Brazilian asylum seekers surfaced, Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announced the withdrawal of the “refugee condition” for four Paraguayans accused of terrorism in that country. 

“The Argentine government has decided to withdraw the status of refugee to those people who are no longer in this country for political reasons but because they committed criminal actions in their own countries,” Bullrich said at the time.