Pro-Bolsonaro truck drivers threaten new road blockades in Brazil | Brazil


Protesters in Brazil have blocked roads again and lorry drivers threatened to strike in what could be a new wave of support for the outgoing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Six federal highways were blocked on Friday morning although two were cleared by early afternoon, the federal highway police said in its first bulletin on road closures since 9 November when the first wave of post-election protests dissipated.

Truck drivers, some of whom claimed they would not get paid because their company’s accounts were frozen for allegedly funding earlier pro-Bolsonaro protests, called on colleagues to strike in support of the far-right president.

“I think this kind of talk will continue at least until Lula takes office [on 1 January],” said Ana Julia Bernardi, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul who studies political culture and disinformation.

“I don’t think the protests will last a long time but they will inconvenience people. They’ve sent videos and called people to strike but there hasn’t been the same response as before.”

The unrest came as Bolsonaro published a video of him driving a tractor, a lorry and a bus, in what some supporters interpreted as encouragement.

The hashtag #Caminhoneiros, which means lorry drivers, trended on Brazilian Twitter on Friday.

Bolsonaro was voted out of office on 30 October, losing to his leftist nemesis Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a runoff election.

But he has so far refused to admit defeat or congratulate his opponent and many of his supporters have taken to the streets to protest with unsubstantiated claims of fraud.

‘Brazil was stolen’: the Bolsonaro supporters who refuse to accept election result – video

Many are calling for a return to military dictatorship, with social media awash with videos of extremists praying, begging and serenading the army outside barracks across Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters blocked hundreds of major roads and highways in the days after the election and officials took more than a week to clear the barricades of parked vehicles, burning tyres and other detritus.

In his sole public appearance since the election, Bolsonaro eventually asked his supporters to go home, saying Brazil’s economy could not grow unless the roads were clear.

His supporters, though, still refused to budge and it took court orders and battalions of law enforcement officers to clear many of the roads.

Bolsonaro has been awol ever since, with websites calculating from his official diary of engagements that he worked about 25 minutes a day in the 10 days following the ballot.

His team have nevertheless updated his social media feeds and they did so again on TikTok on Friday.

The short video showed him driving a tractor, a lorry and a bus to the soundtrack of Howlin Wolf’s Howlin at the Moon. Bolsonaro did not speak in the video and he made no statement but the vehicles were often used in the earlier demos.

The petulant display comes the week after the military – one of the former army captain’s main constituencies – published a 63-page report on the election process which did not find any evidence for fraud.

Bolsonaro has long claimed Brazil’s electronic voting machines were susceptible to fraud, even though he offered no proof. The military report acknowledged the reliability of the ballot boxes, saying there was no indication of “fraud or inconsistency in electronic ballot boxes or in the 2022 electoral process”.

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