STORY: After days of road blockades across Brazil in protest of Jair Bolsonaro’s election loss on Sunday (October 30), the president on Wednesday finally asked the protesters to clear out. “I know you’re upset, you’re sad; you expected something else, so did I. I’m just as upset, as sad as you. But we have to keep our head in place.”
Truckers, who are core Bolsonaro supporters that benefited from his policies to lower fuel prices, have blocked hundreds of highways nationwide since Monday. That’s after electoral officials announced on Sunday that leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva narrowly beat Bolsonaro in the run-off presidential election. The blockades have created miles-long backups and threaten to disrupt supply chains.
In his video posted on social media, Bolsonaro called them illegal. “Having the roads closed is harming everyone. The appeal I make to you: clear the roads, protest in another way and in other places, because this is very welcome and is part of democracy”. His message came as momentum grew among his supporters for the military to intervene. “Today, people are gathered here asking for a federal intervention, because we believe there was fraud in the election.”
“We are here legally, peacefully, democratically as a counter to the coup. This corrupt criminal system that organized the election through the Superior Electoral Court has delivered a blow to Brazil via the polls.”
In response to a request for comment, Brazil’s defense ministry said peaceful demonstrations were part of free expression under Brazilian law. It added, quote, “the Defense Ministry is guided by the Federal Constitution.”
Before Sunday’s vote, Bolsonaro repeatedly made baseless claims that Brazil’s electoral system was open to fraud. As of Wednesday night, the outgoing president had still not officially conceded his election loss, though his cabinet has begun a process of transition.
Comment: This surprised me. Not that Lula won or Bolsinaro lost, It could easily have gone the other way. But Bolsinaro has responded to his loss in a remarkably prudent way. Given his earlier “rigged election” rhetoric, I expected him to scream that he won the election… by a lot. He didn’t do that. Sure he didn’t concede. There’s no requirement for a a candidate’s public concession in Brazil or anywhere else as far as I know. He doesn’t appear to be contesting the results and directed his cabinet to immediately begin the transition process.
I find this all a remarkable display of putting country and respect for the democratic process over his personal ambitions. This is a good thing for all of Brazil. In the years to come I’m sure he will remain a prominent opposition leader and he’ll undoubtedly run in the next election.