Trucker blockades in Brazil increase in wake of Bolsonaro election defeat


An aerial view shows demonstrators burning tires to block federal roads during a protest the day after the Brazilian presidential election run-off, in Varzea Grande in Mato Grosso state, Brazil, October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Rogerio Florentino


Truckers who support Brazil's outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro escalated their protests on Monday, blocking roads throughout the country in actions that could affect exports in one of the world's top food producers and cause wider economic chaos.


Bolsonaro lost Sunday's election to leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but has yet to concede defeat. He will not publicly address his defeat until Tuesday, a cabinet minister said on Monday evening, amid doubts over whether the far-right nationalist will accept Lula's victory.


Video footage showed some truckers at roadblocks calling for a military coup to prevent Lula becoming president, as protests spread from Mato Grosso and Santa Catarina to Parana, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goias and Bahia.


In Brasilia, police shut off traffic access to the central government esplanade on a tip that Bolsonaro supporters were planning to occupy the square in front of the Supreme Court, which they consider has acted to favor Lula.


Brazil's federal highway police said 321 protests had partially or fully blocked roads in 26 states. Truckers - who have benefited from Bolsonaro policies such as lowering diesel costs - are one of the president's key constituencies, and they have been known to disrupt Brazil's economy when they shut down highways.


The highest number of blockades was in Santa Catarina, a state where Bolsonaro has a massive support base, and Mato Grosso do Sul, an important grain-growing and cattle state, according to the highway police national branch.