© Reuters. Supporters of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, mainly truck drivers, block a highway during a protest over Bolsonaro’s defeat in the presidential run-off election, in Queimados, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 1, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Oli
By Brian Ellsworth and Ricardo Brito
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro will not contest his election defeat and will address the nation later on Tuesday, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters.
The presidential address may defuse protests by his supporters who have blocked highways in many states across Brazil, along with pro-Bolsonaro truckers calling for him to defy the electoral victory of leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro has made no public remarks so far to the election result and had not called Lula after Sunday’s vote.
Bolsonaro political allies, including his chief of staff Ciro Nogueira, have already begun to establish contact with the Lula camp to discuss a transition. Some, including the speaker of the lower house of Congress, have publicly said the Bolsonaro government should respect the election result.
Truckers – who have benefited from Bolsonaro lowering diesel costs – are one of the president’s key constituencies, and they have previously disrupted Brazil’s economy with highway closures.
The Brazilian supermarkets lobby has reported supply problems due to the protests and appealed to Bolsonaro to resolve the situation before shop shelves begin to empty.
The Supreme Court ordered police to remove scores of blockades that had blocked access to a key grains-exporting port, shut off the country’s largest airport started to affect the transportation of food and fuel.
The highways blocked by Bolsonaro supporters included key roads used to move grains from farm states to ports, as well as a major road linking the two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
The main access road to Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos international airport, the busiest in the country, was temporarily blocked by dozens of demonstrators and 25 flights were canceled, the airport said. But Governor Rodrigo Garcia said the highway was reopened on Tuesday morning.
“We honest Brazilians are against the return of that gang that looted state coffers,” said truck driver Vando Soares, opposed to the return to office of Lula, whose 2003-2010 presidency was marked by widespread corruption.
“We are not moving until that bandit is stopped from assuming as president,” he said.
Another demonstrator, Naiele Souza, said she thought Bolsonaro was waiting to see how the demonstrations went before addressing the nation.
Lula’s win represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metalworker, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but then spent time in prison for corruption convictions that were later annulled.
Lula has vowed to overturn many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including pro-gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon (NASDAQ:) rainforest.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes called on the Federal Highway Police (PRF) to remove all the trucker blockades.
Some truckers posted videos calling for a military coup to stop Lula from taking office.
The PRF said truckers were blocking highways partially or fully in more than 200 locations, as part of protests that have spread to 21 of Brazil’s 26 states and Federal District. They said another 192 roadblocks had been cleared.