Roadblocks set up in Brazil by protesters rejecting the electoral defeat of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro were winding down on Friday, as leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s transition team began setting up operations in the capital.
The Federal Highway Police (PRF) reported five partial closures that did not impede the flow of traffic, in two of the 27 states of Brazil. “All federal highways are free of blockades,” he stated on his social networks.
Since Bolsonaro lost the presidential ballot on Sunday by a narrow margin against Lula (50.9% to 49.1%), his followers have blocked hundreds of highways with trucks and tractors, and have set up camp in front of barracks in the main cities, demanding a military intervention to keep the outgoing president in power.
Since Sunday, the highway authority has cleared 975 roadblocks in the country, which caused problems of displacement and transportation of goods in the main economy of Latin America.
Blockades began to ease after Bolsonaro, who has not explicitly acknowledged his electoral defeat, asked his supporters on Wednesday to end these actions due to their impact on the economy and the right to free movement.
Business chambers had warned of the risk of shortages and lack of fuel if the blockades continued.
Bolsonaro, however, gave his support to another type of protest, without blockades, against the victory of the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), who will govern Brazil for the third time after two terms between 2003 and 2010.
In Brasilia, a hundred people crowded this Friday morning in front of the Army headquarters, an AFP photographer confirmed. At night, police barriers still prevented access to the street in front of the military complex.
In the two days following the ballot, the far-right head of state remained silent, an attitude that according to his critics fueled the proliferation of protests and generated uncertainty about the transfer of power to Lula, who will assume the Presidency on January 1.
But after several allies recognized the result, Bolsonaro, 67, promised on Tuesday to “comply with the Constitution” and authorized the start of the government transition.
The outgoing president met briefly on Thursday with the vice president-elect, Geraldo Alckmin, head of Lula’s splicing team, who described the meeting as “positive.”
The transition took its first steps on Friday: the president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, along with other members of the team, inspected the facilities of the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center, in the Brazilian capital, where 50 officials plus a group of volunteers will work.
“The idea is that from Monday we start to occupy the space,” Hoffmann told reporters.
Street celebrations for the former president’s return to power took place generally without incident in the country’s main cities on Sunday night, although there were episodes of violence.
A 12-year-old girl, who was shot while celebrating Lula’s victory, died this Friday in Belo Horizonte, according to local media. Police are investigating whether the man who shot was politically motivated.
*With information from AFP.