Brazil’s highway cops: tough on voters, kind to putschist protests

Data shows that the Federal Highway Police had more agents patrolling roads on Election Day, when it was accused of voter suppression, than after pro-Bolsonaro groups began blocking roads.

bolsonaro highway police
Jair Bolsonaro during a Federal Highway Police event. PRF chief Silvinei Vasques is pictured in the center, maskless. Photo: Carolina Antunes/PR

The 2022 election was historic for Brazilian politics in many ways. It also marked arguably the lowest point for the Federal Highway Police (PRF), an oft-overlooked force which has gained prominence under the Jair Bolsonaro administration. During and after Election Day, the PRF showed itself as less of an independent federal body of law enforcement and more as an institution sequestered by the far-right.

On Sunday, when Brazilians elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for his third term as president, the PRF assigned over 3,600 agents to carry out operations officially aimed at curbing electoral crimes, such as parties bussing...

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