Brazil's Bolsonaro tells supporters to end road-blocking protests

Leader says demonstrations are hurting the economy as he accepts presidential transition after electoral loss

A lorry blockade by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, on November 2.  AFP
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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro called on his protesting supporters to dismantle hundreds of roadblocks, saying they harm the economy and are not a legitimate form of demonstrating.

In a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday, Mr Bolsonaro said that holding protests elsewhere “is very welcome, it’s part of our democracy”.

Supporters of the president who refuse to accept his defeat in Sunday’s election have been taking to the streets in the past few days and using lorries to block major roads across the country. Associations for agribusiness, transportation and supermarkets have condemned the blockages, warning they were disrupting the supply of food and medicine.

The number of road blocks has fallen to 86 from nearly 170 a day ago, the federal motorway police posted on Twitter early on Thursday. Police have been trying to remove illegal blockages since the Supreme Court ordered all motorways to be cleared, imposing heavy fines on protesters who refuse to do so.

As road protests decreased, some supporters of the outgoing president congregated outside army bases, criticising the electoral process and holding signs calling on the military to intervene to overturn the official results.

According to local media outlet G1, on Wednesday there were demonstrations in front of military installations in at least 24 states as well as in the Federal District, where the capital Brasilia is located. Mr Bolsonaro, a former army officer, has strong support among the military, though the constitution forbids them from interfering in politics.

The president appeared to grudgingly accept his defeat in a speech on Tuesday. Although he didn’t formally concede, he said he would follow the constitution, and has ordered his chief of staff to begin the transition process.

The protests, which threaten to disrupt Brazil’s key agriculture sector, are being held after the president lost to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva by a margin of less than 2 percentage points, the tightest result in a presidential run-off in the country’s recent history.

Updated: November 03, 2022, 5:43 PM