The two men were sitting in a bar on November 21, having drinks to ease the scorching heat in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, when police officers stormed in and arrested them for allegedly setting fire to trucks and an ambulance with Molotov cocktails.
A man tried to run away and dispose of his illegal firearm. Inside his truck, agents found gasoline cans, knives, a gun, slingshots and hundreds of stones, as well as 9,999 reais (almost $1,900) in cash.
A federal judge ordered his preventive detention, noting that the apparent reason for the violence was “dissatisfaction with the result of the last presidential elections and the search for its undemocratic reversal,” according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
For more than three weeks, supporters of the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro who refuses to accept his narrow defeat in the October elections they blocked roads and camped in front of military buildings in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s soybean-producing powerhouse. They have also protested in other states of the country, while requesting the intervention of the armed forces or marching orders from their commander in chief.
Since his electoral defeat, Bolsonaro has only twice addressed the nation to say that the protests are legitimate and to encourage them to continue, as long as they do not prevent people from coming and going. Bolsonaro has also not denied the recent surge in violence. However, he has questioned the results of the elections, which according to the president of the electoral authority appear to be destined to fuel the protests.
While most of the demonstrations are peaceful, the tactics deployed by hardcore participants have begun to worry the authorities. José Antônio Borges, chief state prosecutor in Mato Grosso, compared their actions to those of guerrillas, militias and domestic terrorists. Mato Grosso is one of the sources of unrest in the country. The main targets, says Borges, are the soybean trucks of the Maggi Group, owned by a magnate who declared his support for president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
There are also indications that state-owned individuals and companies may be fueling protests elsewhere.
Roadblocks and acts of violence have been reported in the states of Rondonia, Pará, Paraná and Santa Catarina. In the latter, federal highway police said protesters who blocked roads used “terrorist” methods, including pipe bombs, fireworks, nails, stones and barricades made from burned tires.
Police also noted that the roadblocks over the weekend were different from those carried out immediately after the second round of elections on October 30, when truckers blocked more than 1,000 roads and highways across the country, with only isolated incidents.
Protests in Brazil intensify, disrupting the fuel, grain and meat industries https://t.co/IzpAGpXGlm pic.twitter.com/5hqO6HPQ3r
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 1, 2022
Now, most of the acts of resistance take place at night, carried out by “extremely violent and coordinated hooded men” who act in different regions of the state at the same time, the federal highway police said. “The situation is getting very critical” in the state of Mato Grosso, chief state prosecutor Borges told the AP. Among other examples, he noted that protesters in Sinop, the state’s second most populous city, this week ordered the closure of shops and businesses in support of the movement. “Whoever does not shut up suffers reprisals,” he said.
Since the vote, Bolsonaro has disappeared from public view and his daily schedule has been largely empty, raising speculation as to whether he is plotting or plotting. The government’s transition tasks have been led by his chief of staff, while Vice President Hamilton Mourão has stepped in to preside over official ceremonies.
In an interview with the newspaper The balloonMourão attributed Bolsonaro’s absence to erysipelas, a skin infection on the legs that he said prevents the president from wearing pants.
But even Bolsonaro’s social media accounts have gone silent, aside from generic posts about his administration, apparently from his communications team. And the live broadcasts on social networks that he, with rare exceptions, he made every Thursday night during his administration have ceased. The silence marks an abrupt sea change for the bombastic Brazilian leader whose legions of supporters hang on his every word.
Brazil’s second largest port, Paranaguá, was completely blocked by striking truckers in an electoral protest dubbed the Brazilian Spring. pic.twitter.com/MInbbRWYGK
— The River Times (@TheRioTimes) November 21, 2022
Still, the protesters, who have been camped out outside military barracks across Brazil for weeks, are sure they have their tacit support. “We fully understand why she doesn’t want to speak: They (the media) are twisting her words,” said a 49-year-old woman who identified herself only as Joelma during a protest outside the monumental regional military command center in Rio de Janeiro. janeiro. She refused to give her full name, claiming that the protest had been infiltrated by informers.
Joelma and others say they are outraged by the loss of Bolsonaro and claim the election was rigged, echoing the current president’s claims, made without evidence, that the electronic voting system is prone to fraud.
Scenes of large barbecues with free food and portable toilets at various protests, as well as reports of free bus rides taking protesters to the capital Brasilia, have prompted investigations into the individuals and companies funding and organizing the protests. meetings and roadblocks.
The Supreme Court froze at least 43 bank accounts on suspicion of involvement, the G1 news site reported, saying most are from Mato Grosso. Borges cited the participation of agribusiness actors in the protests, many of whom support Bolsonaro’s push for the development of the Amazon rainforest and his authorization of previously banned pesticides. By contrast, President-elect da Silva has pledged to rebuild environmental protections.
More recently, protesters have been emboldened by the president’s decision to officially challenge the election results.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro and his party filed a request for the electoral authority to annul votes cast on nearly 60% of electronic voting machines, citing a software bug in older models. Independent experts have said that the error, although recently discovered, does not affect the results and the president of the electoral authority, Alexandre de Moraes, quickly rejected the “bizarre and illegal” request.
De Moraes, who is also a Supreme Court magistrate, called it “an attack on the Democratic Rule of Law… with the purpose of encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements.”
On November 21, Attorney General Augusto Aras convened federal prosecutors from states where roadblocks and violence have become most intense for a crisis meeting. Aras, who is widely seen as a Bolsonaro supporter, said he received intelligence from local prosecutors and instructed the Mato Grosso governor to request federal support to clear blocked roads.
Ultimately, that was not necessary, as local law enforcement managed to disperse the demonstrations, and by Monday night, highways in Mato Grosso and elsewhere were all free, according to the federal highway police. However, it was not clear how long this would last, amid Bolsonaro’s continued silence, said Guilherme Casarões, a professor of political science at the Fundación Getulio Vargas university.
“With his silence, he keeps people on the streets,” Casarões said. “That is the great advantage it has today: a very mobilized and very radical base.”