2022 Race

Pro-Bolsonaro protesters try to block roads again

protesters block roads again
President Jair Bolsonaro and PRF boss Silvinei Vasques. Photo: Antonio Cruz/ABr

Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) on Friday tallied four demonstrations totally blocking traffic on federal roads, as well as 13 other demonstrations partially obstructing roads. They are held by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, contesting the election results and calling for a military coup. 

President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who won the presidency with 50.9 percent of the vote, is to take office on January 1.

The full blockades are in the cities of Porto Velho and Presidente Médici, both in the Amazonian state of Rondônia; Caruaru, in the Northeastern state of Pernambuco, and Lucas do Rio Verde, in the Center-Western state of Mato Grosso.

Since President Bolsonaro lost re-election on October 30, the highway police have worked to undo 1,158 such demonstrations nationwide. The force, however, was accused of condoning the anti-democratic protests in the election’s aftermath. 

As The Brazilian Report showed, there were more officers on duty during Election Day (when the PRF were accused of staging road inspections — mostly in Lula-leaning areas — with the purpose of helping Mr. Bolsonaro win) than on the days following the vote. That allowed protesters to disrupt supply chains and create shortages.

Silvinei Vasques, the PRF head, is under investigation for alleged malfeasance.

Over 60 percent of all cargo is transported by trucks in Brazil, making widespread roadblocks a massive economic risk. 

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on November 12 froze the assets of 43 individuals and companies suspected of sponsoring the putschist demonstrations — both on federal roads and around military facilities. In his decision, Justice Moraes quoted PRF intelligence as saying the business owners in question provide meals, tents, and trucks to the demonstrators. 

Justice Moraes also ordered that the Federal Police interrogate suspects.