Brazil’s Supreme Court orders suspension of Bolsonarista road blockades / by Tanupriya Singh

Road blockades erected across Brazil by Bolsonaro supporters who seek to refute the results of the election. Photo: ARede

Originally published in People’s Dispatch

Supporters of outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro set up over 300 road blockades on October 31. The far-right leader has isolated himself since Sunday and has remained completely silent since his defeat.

As millions of Brazilians celebrated the return of Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva to the presidency on Sunday, October 30, supporters of outgoing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro began blocking roads across the country in the latest attempt to undermine the historic election. The actions caused major disruptions throughout Monday, ultimately forcing the Supreme Federal Court (STF) to intervene.

Lula, of the Workers’ Party (PT), emerged victorious securing 50.9% of the votes against Bolsonaro’s 49.1% share. However, the far-right incumbent refused to officially concede defeat, canceled a press statement and isolated himself in the presidential palace, even as major allies accepted the election result.

Amid this arguably very deliberate silence, given Bolsonaro’s previous open threats to not recognize the electoral results and unsubstantiated claims of fraud, groups of Bolsonaristas began to shut down key highways in rejection of Lula’s victory, with some calling for a coup. The actions escalated throughout Monday, October 31, with scenes of protestors burning tires.

By 11PM local time, the Federal Highway Police (PRF) had reported approximately 342 total or partial blockades in 25 states, including the Federal District. Santa Catarina, where Bolsonaro has major support, recorded the most disruptions, followed by Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná.

Bolsonaro’s absence was interpreted as tacit support, with Bolsonaristas reportedly sharing messages on WhatsApp saying that the president was silent because he was “organizing” with the Armed Forces.

In one of the recordings circulating online, a protester could be heard threatening that they would only leave the streets “when the Army takes over the country”.

“It is the position of the president that will determine the direction of the protests… We are waiting for him to speak,” a protester told BBC News Brasil. “Either Bolsonaro goes to war, or he will disappear from the political scene, because then he is not the leader we thought.”

One of the major blockades took place on the Via Dutra highway, the main connection between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. People stranded in the area reported facing harassment and violence at the hands of Bolsonarista protestors. Speaking to Brasil de Fato, a teacher said that people who were trying to hitchhike were being harassed, and that the windows of a car stationed where people were taking refuge were broken.

The protests were further bolstered by Bolsonaro-allied elected officials and politicians who have taken a hostile and combative stance against Lula. “The government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva needs to know the terror of having us an opposition,” declared São Paulo councilor Fernando Holiday. Others called on the protesting truckers to not get “discouraged”.

Meanwhile, the National Confederation of Transport and Logistics Workers (CNTTL) strongly condemned the protests as “anti-democratic”. It added that the Confederation defended “above all, democracy, that is, it respects the sovereign results of the polls.”

In a separate statement, the organization added the protesting groups, which were allegedly being supported by sections of the Agribusiness sector, were “spreading the false claim that this demonstration is by truck drivers.”

The CNTTL stressed that the movement was not organized by workers, and that self-employed truck drivers and CLT workers were “victims of these blockades, since these [Bolsonarista] groups had hired truck freights with stones and earth to make it difficult to pass on the highways, a fact that constitutes a crime!”

The demonstrations were also opposed by the National Transport Confederation (CNT), stating that while it respected every citizen’s right to demonstrate, its exercise must not harm other people’s rights.

“In addition to economic upheavals, work stoppages create difficulties for people to move, including the sick, in addition to hampering access to the transport of basic necessities for the population, such as food, medicines and fuel,” it said in a statement.

The current governor of the state of São Paulo Rodrigo Garcia, who supported Bolsonaro in the second round, gave a press conference on the morning of November 1 wherein he affirmed that “We have a president-elect and that is president Lula.” He announced that there would be a R$100,000 per hour fine for anyone taking part in the road blockades and stated that: “The election is over. São Paulo respects democracy.”

The PRF had maintained that it had adopted “all measures for the return of normal flow” on Monday, including “prioritizing dialogue” while recognizing the “right of manifestation of the citizens”. However, videos circulating online have shown police telling protesters that “we are all in the same boat” and the “only order we have is to be here with you”. The CNTTL also accused police of “turning a blind eye” to illegal roadblocks”.

Police could also be seen diverting cars as groups of Bolsonaristas blocked a lane on the main access road to São Paulo.

The PRF stated that it had approached the Attorney General’s Office (AGU) for a court order to halt the protests and resume traffic flow.

Finally, late on Monday night, the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court, Alexandre de Moraes, ordered the PRF to immediately clear all obstructed roads. The decision was issued in response to a request filed by the CNT and the deputy electoral attorney general, Paulo Gonet. Moraes stated that if the order was not complied with by 12:00 AM on Tuesday, then the director general of the police, Silvinei Vasques, would face a fine of R100,000 ($19,302) per hour, a possible removal from office, and even arrest.

He also warned that protesters would face a similar fine if they did not clear the roads as ordered. Moraes had also summoned the justice minister, the attorney general of the Republic as well as the attorney generals in the states, and the commanders of the military police.

Meanwhile, several reports have suggested that Bolsonaro might finally make a statement on Tuesday, November 1.

Amid the attempted provocations, president-elect Lula has continued to receive messages of solidarity and support, and also met with Argentinian president Alberto Fernández on October 31.

Watch: Bringing hope back to Brazil

Defeated, Bolsonaro isolates himself, cancels interviews and does not respond even to close advisors / by Brasil de Fato

Caption: Ex-captain left his official residence, the Alvorada Palace, to travel to Granja do Torto—Flickr/Beto Barata

This article was originally published on Brasil de Fato.

“Bolsonaro doesn’t want to receive anyone,” aides say after Lula’s presidential election victory

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, who was just defeated in the elections, isolated himself after the confirmation of the victory of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on October 30. The former captain canceled a press statement at the Alvorada Palace, in the capital of Brasília, right at the beginning of the vote count.

According to Globo, “Bolsonaro does not want to receive anyone.” The report continues, “ministers and deputies who tried to visit him this Sunday after the results of the polls were informed that the president does not want to see anyone at this time, not even his closest allies.”

Veja magazine corroborated: “Jair Bolsonaro, according to his aides, has isolated himself in the presidential quarters and is not taking phone calls from any close allies,” their report states.

Bolsonaro started out the election in the lead, Lula eventually won with 50.9% of the vote. When the data from the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) had already indicated that Lula was close to winning, the current president’s convoy left the Alvorada Palace, traveling towards Granja do Torto, the official residence occupied by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes. Then the convoy returned to Alvorada.

Bolsonaro is the first president in the country’s history to lose the race for reelection since this became possible in 1997, during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration.

Brasil de Fato,

President Lula! / by People’s Dispatch

Lula at a campaign event

Thousands took to the streets to celebrate as Lula, the candidate of the Workers’ Party of Brazil, defeated Jair Bolsonaro in one the most crucial elections in the country’s history

Thousands took to the streets of Brazil to celebrate as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party (PT) was elected president on Sunday, October 30. With almost 50.9% of the votes, Lula, a trade unionist who was also president from 2003-2010, defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party who got around 49.1% in the run-off election. Lula is set to be in office from 2023-2027.

The second round of the presidential election was held after neither candidate managed to obtain the necessary 50% plus one vote in the first round held on October 2. Elections were also held for the post of Governor in 12 States. Around 156 million Brazilians were eligible to vote.

The results mark a remarkable comeback for Lula who just a few years ago was in jail on corruption charges which were later overturned. His campaign for this election was driven by the left, people’s movements, trade unions, and radical and progressive forces across the country.

Many in Brazil had pointed out that Lula’s victory would mark a key moment in the reversal of a number of processes that began with the constitutional coup against PT’s President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Lula ran on the slogan of “bringing hope back to Brazil” and promised to respond to the immediate needs of the population and to recover the social and economic rights that have been lost in the last six years during the governments of Michel Temer (who succeeded Dilma) and Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s years as president saw a drastic improvement in social indicators in Brazil.

Under Jair Bolsonaro, the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through Brazil, killing over 700,00 people. Bolsonaro’s tenure also saw a slashing of key welfare programs and the deterioration of Brazil’s famous health system as well as food sovereignty. The Bolsonaro presidency also saw an increase in attacks on the Amazon rainforests through deforestation which were accelerated by his relaxing environmental norms.

The Bolsonaro years were also marked by the right-wing gaining strength and becoming more aggressive with the president leading from the front, along with his family members. A close ally of former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro celebrated the brutal military dictatorship (1964-85)and relentlessly attacked democratic institutions, including the electoral system whose fairness he questioned repeatedly without providing any evidence. The run-up to the election on Sunday was marked by a massive fake news campaign by the right-wing.

People’s Dispatch, October 30, 2022,

‘He’s the only way’: how Lula allies hope he will end Bolsonaro era / by Tom Phillips in São Paulo

Former Brazilian head of state Lula da Silva launches presidential candidacy after Bolsonaro’s “irresponsible” rule | credit: AFP

Brazilian supporters hope to overturn far-right leader’s ‘reckless and criminal’ rule

A mesmerized hush fell over the crowd as João Camarero took to the stage with his seven-string guitar and plucked the opening notes of a national anthem that has become a symbol of the political struggle for Brazil’s soul.

“O land adored above all others, ’tis thee, Brazil,” sang the South American songstress beside him, Teresa Cristina, as thousands of spectators added their voices to the hymn’s call for a future of liberty and love.

Behind the musicians stood the man the audience hoped could make that dream reality: the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who on Saturday announced he would seek to return to power in October’s election so as to end what he called Jair Bolsonaro’s era of tyranny, destruction and hate.

“Brazil needs to go back to being a normal country,” the 76-year-old leftwinger told elated supporters at a rally in São Paulo, many visibly moved by the rendition of a national anthem that has been appropriated by Bolsonaro’s far-right movement and which, along with the presidency, progressive Brazilians want to reclaim.

It was time, Lula declared, for Brazil to decide whether it wished to be a country of democracy or authoritarianism; truth or lies; tolerance or obscurantism; education or automatic rifles; environmental preservation or depredation.

“Never was it easier to choose – and never was it so important to make the right choice,” he said.

Supporters of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva cheer during the announcement on Saturday of his candidacy for the country’s presidential election. Photograph: André Penner/AP

There was euphoria below the stage as the former president, who governed from 2003 to 2011, outlined plans to build a more stable and compassionate country from the wreckage of Bolsonaro’s “reckless and criminal” rule under which Amazon deforestation has soared and more than 660,000 lives been lost to Covid-19.

“I feel I’m part of history … and we feel happy to be on the right side of history,” said Maria de Lourdes, a retired bank clerk who clutched a crêpe paper flower symbolising her yearning for change.

Polls suggest Lula should comfortably beat Bolsonaro, a Donald Trump-admiring nationalist whose radical rhetoric and calamitous coronavirus response mean he is abominated by many of Brazil’s 215 million citizens.

But analysts, and Lula allies, say Bolsonaro is a formidable political opponent with a ferociously loyal support base representing perhaps 25% of voters. To ensure victory, they believe the former president must build an invincible pro-democracy coalition stretching all the way from the hard-left to the centre-right.

“It’s important not just that Lula wins, but that Bolsonaro loses badly,” said the political columnist Celso Rocha de Barros, who fears that in the event of a narrow Lula victory Bolsonaro will refuse to concede, alleging fraud, and launch a coup to supposedly “reestablish democracy”.

Lula’s mission advanced at the weekend with the unveiling of his anti-Bolsonaro alliance, Vamos Juntos Pelo Brasil (Let’s Pull Together for Brazil). The bloc includes seven leftwing and centre-left parties and hopes to expand before the vote on 2 October.

As a gesture of his unifying intentions, Lula named Geraldo Alckmin, the centre-right former governor of São Paulo and a one-time presidential rival, as his running mate.

The Guardian last interviewed Alckmin in 2006 and the moderate conservative was trekking through Rio’s largest favela in search of votes to defeat Lula in that year’s presidential election. “Brazil has not grown,” Alckmin said of Lula’s first term in power, blaming his opponent for economic stagnation.

Times have changed. On Saturday, Alckmin urged voters to back his once-improbable partnership with Brazil’s first working-class leader. “Lula … isn’t the first, second or third way,” Alckmin said. “He’s the only way [to end] the most disastrous and cruel government” in Brazilian history.

Randolfe Rodrigues, a progressive senator who is part of Lula’s campaign team and tipped as a future minister, vowed to work tirelessly to build a multi-party alliance against Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper who openly celebrates the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

“Today was a starting point. Now we need to bring together all democrats,” Rodrigues said, claiming Bolsonaro’s relentless threats against Brazil’s young democracy meant the coming vote represented an extraordinary crossroads, for Brazil and the world.

“2022 isn’t an election like all of those which Brazil has held since the return of democracy. In none of the previous elections … was Brazilian democracy at stake,” Rodrigues said. “In 2022, it is.”

As Lula supporters streamed out of the auditorium and a giant Brazilian flag – another national symbol leftwingers are trying to wrestle back from the right – was removed from the stage, Rodrigues urged his country to seek inspiration from France, where rival politicians recently pulled together to defeat the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in presidential elections.

“Macron’s victory was a balm for us Brazilians – the French gave us a great example that we must follow here in terms of tolerance and unity,” he said.

Rodrigues said the world was “living through a species of fascist international, represented by Trump in the United States, [Viktor] Orbán in Hungary and [Vladimir] Putin in Russia”.

Defeating that movement’s South American representative had global significance. “This is a civilizing mission,” he said.

The Guardian, May 7, 2022,