Outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday asked his supporters to unblock the roads of Brazil while endorsing “legitimate demonstrations”, at the end of a day when his supporters, massed in front of places of command, demanded an intervention of the army.
“I appeal to you: unblock the roads. This does not seem to me to be part of the legitimate demonstrations”, said the far-right leader, beaten by Lula in the presidential election, in a video posted on social networks, in reference to roadblocks maintained in more than half of the States, even if they were less numerous than the day before.
“Other demonstrations that are held throughout Brazil, in other places, are part of the democratic game, they are welcome,” he added.
This day of mobilization was marred by a violent episode: on a roadblock near Mirassol, in the state of Sao Paulo (southeast), a motorist hit demonstrators, injuring at least seven according to the CNN channel.
Some bolsonarists proved to be threatening towards journalists, including an AFP team, in particular in Sao Paulo, where the number of demonstrators had started to drop at the end of the afternoon.
These protests took place the day after the speech by Jair Bolsonaro, ex-captain of the army nostalgic for the military dictatorship (1964-85), narrowly defeated in the presidential election on Sunday by ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010).
He broke a heavy two-day silence on Tuesday to say he would “respect” the Constitution and gave the green light to the transition with his leftist successor Lula.
But he also delivered a message received as encouragement by his supporters: “Peaceful demonstrations will always be welcome”.
According to him, they are “the fruit of indignation and a feeling of injustice regarding the way the electoral process unfolded”, a sentence taken up on Wednesday by his deputy son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, in a post on Instagram which showed an aerial view of the protest in Rio de Janeiro.
– “Federal intervention” –
In Sao Paulo, thousands of Bolsonarists demonstrated in front of the military command of the south-east, demanding an intervention of the army to cries of “federal intervention immediately”, noted an AFP-TV journalist.
A similar demonstration outside the army headquarters in Brasilia also brought together thousands of protesters, according to an AFP photographer, some chanting “civil resistance”.
Same scenario in Rio de Janeiro, where thousands of demonstrators sang in front of the military command: “Lula, thief, your place is in prison”, according to an AFP-TV journalist.
“We are asking (…) a military intervention so that our country does not become communist”, explained to AFP-TV Rodrigo da Mata, a 41-year-old salesman in Sao Paulo.
“We do not recognize the result of the election because we know it was fraudulent. Like everything the PT does,” he adds of Lula’s Workers’ Party.
Nazi salutes were filmed during protests in the southern state of Santa Catarina.
According to the UOL news site, demonstrations in favor of an intervention of the army took place on Wednesday in front of military buildings in 11 states (out of 27) of the country.
“It’s no use crying, we’ve lost the game,” vice-president Hamilton Mourao, who has often displayed his spirit of independence from the head of state, told the daily O Globo.
– Threat of shortage –
The number of roadblocks fell by almost half on Wednesday: the Federal Highway Police (PRF) announced that they had recorded some 146 roadblocks, against 271 the day before, in 16 states in Brazil, according to a report published Wednesday afternoon. Some 688 such protests were dispersed, she said.
Their numbers dropped drastically when the police began to use force with the approval of the Supreme Court, which urged them to use “all means necessary” to unblock the roads.
“We cannot use the methods of the left, (…) which prevent freedom of movement,” President Bolsonaro said on Tuesday.
In Sao Paulo, the police had to use tear gas and water cannons to restore traffic on the Castello Branco road, the main road linking the economic lung of Brazil to the center-west of the country, a major center for the economy. agribusiness.
The dams have caused supply difficulties in Brazil, which relies almost exclusively on road transport for the transport of goods and food products.
The National Confederation of Industries warned on Tuesday of the “risk of shortages and lack of fuel” if the roadblocks were not quickly lifted.
The G1 information site estimated that 70% of supermarkets were already seeing supply shortages of certain products.