Soccer fans help unblock roads in Brazil to attend matches

Soccer in Brazil moves mountains. And raise roadblocks. Some fans have had enough of the hundreds of hacks organized by supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro protesting against his defeat in Sunday’s elections. The ultras of Corinthians, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s team, and Atlético Mineiro have helped unblock lines of communication to be able to attend their respective matches. They have also taken the opportunity to remove the flags green yellowbanners of Bolsonarism, and replace them with banners that say: “We are for democracy.”

The Halcones de los Fieles del Corinthians were preparing to leave São Paulo by bus to Rio de Janeiro, where their team was playing a game this Wednesday, when on Tuesday night they ran into one of the many barriers that the Bolsonaristas have raised throughout the country to dispute the election results. Faced with the dilemma of turning around or trying to overcome the blockade, they have chosen the second.

In a video, a group of fans is seen running and shouting to where the Bolsonaristas’ cars are, which immediately run away. In the background, others can be heard chanting Lula’s name and shooting red flares. Other similar scenes have been repeated this Wednesday. Danilo Pássaro, one of the fans who shared the videos, pointed out his willingness to “guarantee that the will of the people through the polls is respected.”

Corinthians, in addition to counting Lula among its supporters, has a long history of fighting for the democratization of the country, a movement known as “Corinthian democracy”. In 1979, in the middle of the military dictatorship and during a match against Santos, his fans unfurled a huge banner “Broad, general and unrestricted amnesty”, in reference to imprisoned opponents of the regime. Those were the years in which Lula, president of the São Paulo ABC Metallurgical Workers Union, led strikes to demand wage increases.

Corinthians fans have not been the only ones to raise blockades. The Galoucura group of Atlético de Minas Gerais, which does not have such a close relationship with Lula, also did not allow roadblocks to prevent them from attending a game in São Paulo on Tuesday night and spoil their party. “Nothing and no one will stop us or prevent us from supporting the club”, published the president of the fans, Josimar Júnior, on Instagram.

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These elections have once again politicized Brazilian football. Neymar has supported Bolsonaro, while Raí, a former PSG player and brother of Sócrates, a Corinthians veteran, backed Lula. Corinthians was the first big team to congratulate the leader of the Workers’ Party after his electoral victory. “A true party of democracy finished in a climate of peace, which is what we need most,” wrote the official account of the club, of which Lula was a life adviser between 2003 and 2016, when he had to leave it due to excessive fouls at the meetings.

While the fans make their way here and there, the police continue to be overwhelmed with so much Bolsonarista blockade. On Monday night they reached more than 300 in twenty states, although on Wednesday afternoon the number has fallen to less than half, thanks to the mobilization of state security forces. The Federal Supreme Court ordered on Monday night the “immediate” release of the highways and established fines of 100,000 reais per hour, about 20,000 dollars, for those who resisted.

After 45 hours of silence following his defeat, Bolsonaro declared on Tuesday that he sympathized with the sentiment of “injustice” behind the blockades, but that he did not agree with those “methods.” [propios] from the left”. As the closures continued, Wednesday has insisted again. “It is not legal. The closure of roads harms the right of movement of people that is in the Constitution”, he has said in a video. “Free the highways. Protest in another way.”

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Soccer fans help unblock roads in Brazil to attend matches