Highway blockade disrupts Brazilian transport as Bolsonaro supporters refuse to accept election results

Smoking barricades made of burning tires cross roads in Brazil. Elsewhere in the country, lines of semi-trucks stand shoulder to shoulder along highways for days, paralyzing traffic.

The scene symbolizes the devotion and hope inspired by incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost a hard-fought election campaign to leftist opposition Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on October 30.

It is also a stark reminder that many Brazilians are not ready to accept the increased taxes and expanded social welfare programs that have become trademarks among socialist leaders in the region. Lula revealed her intention to do both during her campaign.

Five days after the result, roadblocks and protests over Lula’s victory continue, even though police have dismantled more than 730 roadblocks across the country since the election.

States with strong Bolsonaro support are also important agricultural and transport sectors, such as Santa Catarina and Mato Grosso. Disruptions to operations there have raised concerns about the supply chain.

The results of the October 30 presidential election shocked many Bolsonaro voters. According to Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF), thousands took to the streets and blocked roads in 26 states within hours of the results being announced.

At the same time in Brasilia, thousands of protesters gathered outside military headquarters to demand military intervention. Calls for an official audit of the election results echoed among Bolsonaro’s supporters.

Brazilian protest
Members of the Paraná State Military Police and Federal Highway Police stand in the road as supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro block a highway during protests November 1, 2022. (Rodolfo Buhrer/Reuters)

On the morning of November 3, the PRF reported that roadblocks were still in place at 74 locations in eight states. The agency later updated that 24 barricades remained on his November 3 night.

Bolsonaro calls on protesters to remove barricades in Nov. 2 video Posted on Twitter.

“I know you’re upset … me too. But we have to keep our heads straight,” Bolsonaro said, adding, “I appeal to you: clear the highway.” added.

In the same video, the head of state encouraged his supporters to find other ways to demonstrate, calling roadblocks a “leftist way” of protest.

But some Brazilians don’t think the pro-Bolsonaro camp will be so easily deterred, even after the roads are cleared.

Brazilians want to go out

“I think the protesters are unlikely to stop … Many Bolsonaro voters dispute the fact that Lula was elected, not whether he was elected democratically,” he told The Epoch Times. .

Castro is an immigration attorney and founder of Castro Legal Group in Coral Springs, Florida. As a Brazilian-American who has lived in the United States for over 20 years, she has seen regimes come and go in her home country.

She says her practice is already preparing for an influx of clients because “Brazilians have given up believing that Brazil is the country of the future and want to retreat now.”

Castro explained that with Lula’s victory, Brazilian entrepreneurs and those in the upper echelon of the economy see the United States as a potential haven from “astronomical taxes and widespread violence.”

This highlights a key underlying factor for many Bolsonaro supporters who deny Lula’s victory. They want to solve the country’s rampant poverty and violence without raising taxes.

Epoch Times photo
Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, elected president of the Left Workers Party after winning the October 30, 2022 presidential run-off. (Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images)

The president-elect’s transition team wasted no time and has already submitted a constitutional amendment that includes a waiver that would allow Lula to exceed the current 2023 spending cap.

Lula’s top priorities are raising the minimum wage to 1.34% above inflation, expanding benefits and improving healthcare. A meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8 to discuss the 2023 spending package, which some experts say will exceed $19 billion.

Lula’s proposed increase in family welfare benefits, known as Auxilio Brasil, alone will cost more than $10 billion.

“Do you know how they’re going to pay for this? It’s us, we have to pay for it,” Lucas Costa told the Epoch Times.

Costa owns two businesses in the iconic city of Rio de Janeiro. He recalls when Lula was president and says Brazilian politicians have a long history of making meaningless promises.

“Because they think it’s an easy fix, [politicians] Just spend more money. Lula thinks taxing corporations and the wealthy solves everything,” he said, adding, “How it worked for Argentina.”

“Can we fix the economy without making people poorer?” Costa asked rhetorically.

Have past crimes been forgotten?

This isn’t Lula’s first rodeo as Brazil’s head of state. He served as president from his 2003 to his 2011 and was very popular both at home and abroad. A former union boss, Lula boasted as a left-wing advocate for the working class to clean up government corruption.

But those big promises fell through the cracks price and his final conviction for involvement in the Petrobus money laundering scandal.

In May 2017, Lula was put on trial and found guilty of money laundering and corruption, dubbed Brazil’s “trial of the century.”

The former president was sentenced to 10 years in prison and lost a Supreme Court vote to preserve his freedom while appealing his conviction in April 2018.

Ignoring the decision, Lula initially refused to report to the police. He hid in the union headquarters office on the outskirts of São Paulo, where his followers guarded and refused to allow the police to enter the building.

After a tense confrontation, Lula conceded and allowed authorities to jail him on April 7, 2018.

In 2019, the president-elect was again convicted in another corruption scandal involving taking bribes from a construction company.

But the court overturned the previous ruling in a surprising development. In November 2019, it overturned a decision calling for the imprisonment of those convicted, but dismissed an initial appeal.

This allowed Lula to roam freely and continue to appeal the charges against him as a regular citizen.

And now reelected, he faces a deeply divided country suffering from economic stagnation and inflation.

Castro said Bolsonaro’s promises to take a tough stance against rampant government corruption and nationwide crime had failed, adding that Lula was “on the road to a third term in Brazil’s much younger democratic era.” ‘ gave.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is running for another term as he arrives to vote in the Vila Militar district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 30, 2022. (Wagner Meier/Getty Images)

Desmond Lachman, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in this journal article:

Rachman said rocking the money boat in Latin America’s largest economy is “the last thing our very difficult global economy needs right now.”

On November 3, Bolsonaro promised a transition of government with incoming Vice President Gerald Alcumin, which would allow Lula to assume office on January 1.

“The president reiterated the officials’ commitment to a transition characterized by transparency, planning and predictability,” Alckmin told local reporters after meeting with the outgoing head of state.

Bolsonaro has agreed to the move, but has yet to admit losing to Lula in a contested election.

autumn spreedeman


Autumn is a South American-based reporter who primarily covers Latin American issues for The Epoch Times.