Bolsonaro supporters urge Brazil military to keep him in power

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seek federal intervention to keep him in power, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, on Nov 2, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SAO PAULO - Thousands of Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters called on Wednesday for the Brazilian military to intervene and keep the right-wing president in power after he lost re-election to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After days of silence, Mr Bolsonaro on Tuesday gave a short speech in which he neither accepted defeat nor congratulated Mr Lula on his win over the weekend, although his chief of staff took the podium afterwards to say the president had authorised the transition to a new government.

Since then, his supporters have rallied in front of military installations in Brazil’s major cities to call for action.

“Federal intervention now!” chanted some of the thousands who gathered in front of the Southeastern Military Command in the Latin American country’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, on Wednesday.

“We want a federal intervention because we demand our freedom. We do not admit that a thief governs us,” Mrs Angela Cosac, 70, told AFP, next to a sign reading “SOS Armed Forces.” This alluded to the fact that Lula served time in prison for corruption.

Another demonstration in Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue was planned for later in the day.

In the southern state of Santa Catarina, protesters were filmed on Wednesday raising Nazi salutes.

Thousands also gathered in the capital, Brasilia, chanting “civil resistance.” And in rainy downtown Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators were filmed by Brazilian media chanting: “Lula, thief, your place is in prison.”


Protesters also maintained road blockades across the country for the third consecutive day, though the number decreased from 271 on Tuesday to 167 on Wednesday, according to police.

In Sao Paulo, military police used tear gas to disperse a blockade on the main highway connecting the state with the central-west region of the country, after the Supreme Federal Court ordered the use of “all necessary measures” to open the roads.

Mr Rodrigo da Mata, a 41-year-old salesman, told AFP that he wanted a military intervention “so that our country does not become communist.”

“We do not accept the election result because we know it was fraudulent. Like everything that the PT does”, he added, in reference to Mr Lula’s Workers’ Party.

Trucks sounded their horns while demonstrators, wearing yellow football jerseys, waved flags in front of passing vehicles, according to scenes broadcast on local television.

The blockades have caused disruptions across the country. The main airport in Sao Paulo cancelled 48 flights due to the protests, according to its press office.

Bolsonaro supporters protest outside the military police command headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov 2, 2022. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Mr Bolsonaro’s vice-president, Mr Hamilton Mourao, told the O Globo daily that “it’s no use crying, we’ve lost the game.”

The National Confederation of Industry warned on Tuesday of an imminent risk of fuel shortages if blocked roads were not quickly cleared.

Infrastructure minister Marcelo Sampaio had asked late on Tuesday for protesters to unblock the highways to allow medicine, supplies and fuel to circulate.

Transition to Lula

Mr Bolsonaro on Tuesday said protesters should not “use the methods of the left... that prevent freedom of movement,” but added that the roadblocks were “the fruit of indignation and a feeling of injustice at how the electoral process took place.”

“Peaceful protests will always be welcome,” he said.

That was interpreted by some supporters as a call to maintain the demonstrations.

“The dream is still alive,” said a message by one supporter on Tuesday on Telegram. “Fill the streets tomorrow.”

Mr Bolsonaro’s comments on Tuesday broke his two days of silence on the election results, which had fanned fears he would not accept the outcome.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (centre) makes a statement for the first time since Sunday’s presidential run-off election, in Brasilia, on Nov 1, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

In a speech that lasted just over two minutes, the far-right incumbent did not mention Lula’s name, but promised to comply with the constitution.

His chief of staff then told the gathered press that the president had authorised the start of the transition.

Mr Lula’s Workers’ Party announced on Tuesday that his vice-president-elect Geraldo Alckmin would lead the transition process, which would begin on Thursday.

Mr Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, will be inaugurated for his third term on Jan 1. AFP

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