Pro-Bolsonaro protests dwindle as Brazil handover starts

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro marching to ask for federal intervention in Estreito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina state, on Nov 2, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SAO PAULO - Brazilian police said on Friday they had nearly finished clearing hundreds of roadblocks by supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who have been protesting since his election loss to veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After Lula’s narrow victory last Sunday, Mr Bolsonaro supporters blocked highways and camped out at army bases to demand a military intervention to keep the defeated incumbent in power.

“All federal highways are now free of roadblocks,” though five partial closures that don’t impede traffic remain in two of Brazil’s 27 states, federal highway police said.

The blockades threatened to cause havoc in Latin America’s largest economy, but diminished since Mr Bolsonaro urged supporters on Wednesday to “unblock the roads”.

Police have broken up more than 960 roadblocks, they said.

Pro-Bolsonaro protests outside military bases had dwindled in Brasilia on Friday morning to just 100 – while in Sao Paulo there remained about 300 and all had cleared out in Rio de Janeiro, AFP correspondents said.

Ex-army captain Bolsonaro was silent for nearly two days after the election, raising fears he would try to cling to power with the backing of hardline supporters.

But after a series of key allies acknowledged the result, he said on Tuesday he would respect the constitution, and authorised the start of the transition process for Mr Lula’s inauguration on Jan 1.

But Mr Bolsonaro has still not explicitly conceded defeat nor congratulated Mr Lula.

The outgoing president met briefly on Thursday with vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin, who is heading Mr Lula’s transition team.

Mr Alckmin said the meeting had been “positive”, and that Mr Bolsonaro had promised “all information and assistance needed for a smooth transition”.

Although Mr Bolsonaro urged supporters to lift their roadblocks, he also encouraged “legitimate demonstrations”, raising fears Brazil may still face turbulence.

In the latest violent incident linked to the divisive election campaign, a 12-year-old girl shot at a Lula victory party in the city of Belo Horizonte died on Thursday of her wounds.

Ex-metalworker Lula, 77, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, won an unprecedented third term with 50.9 per cent of the vote, to 49.1 per cent for Mr Bolsonaro – the closest presidential election in the country’s modern history. AFP

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