Brazil’s Bolsonaro silent on Lula victory, transition talks begin


President Jair Bolsonaro will not publicly address his defeat in Brazil’s presidential election until Tuesday, a minister said, amid doubts over whether the far-right nationalist will accept the victory of his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro was holding off on making remarks so he could prepare a speech, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters. But it was not clear if Bolsonaro would concede defeat, as his allies were encouraging him to do.

Brazil is on edge, with pro-Bolsonaro truckers setting up roadblocks throughout the country to protest Lula’s return to power. Some truckers posted videos calling for a military coup.

The protests that spread from the first roadblocks in farm states did not immediately disrupt grain shipments by the top food-producing country, but agricultural lobbies warned they may eventually affect exports.

Brazil’s federal highway police said 321 protests had partially or fully blocked roads in 26 states. Truckers – who have benefited from Bolsonaro 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.

Faria, the communications minister, said Bolsonaro was working with his solicitor general to determine measures to clear the highways.

The truckers were hoping Bolsonaro would endorse their roadblocks, but the president’s political aides were urging him to accept his electoral defeat to quell the spreading protests, a senior staffer at his campaign headquarters said.

While the president had not conceded, his associates held the first contacts with the Lula camp on a future transition.—AP


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