Brazil: Truckers Block Highways in Support of President Jair Bolsonaro

Commercial truck drivers in Brazil blocked highways in at least 16 states on Thursday for the second straight day as part of demonstrations supporting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his current battle with the country’s judiciary and federal election authorities, Brazil’s Globo News site reported.

“For the second day in a row, truck drivers who are in favor of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro and against the ministers of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) … promote[d] demonstrations on highways across the country this Thursday,” Globo News reported on September 9.

“The demonstrations were registered in 16 states. Some highways started to be unlocked in the morning. In São Paulo, the roads were cleared, but the protesters continued on the [highways’] shoulders,” Globo News relayed.

Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) reported 53 blockades by commercial truckers on federal roads on the morning of September 8. The road blockages on Wednesday delayed or stopped traffic in many areas and threatened to affect grain shipments to ports in other locales, prompting President Bolsonaro to ask truckers participating in the demonstrations to stand down.

“Speaking to the truckers out there, who are our allies, these blockades hurt our economy,” Bolsonaro said in an audio message sent to truckers’ groups via the messaging app Whatsapp on September 8. Reuters said it obtained a copy of the audio clip on Wednesday.

“They cause supply shortages, inflation and hurt everyone, especially the poorest,” Bolsonaro said of the truckers’ blockades.

“In a separate video WhatsApp message circulating among truckers’ groups and obtained by Reuters, [Brazilian] Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas confirmed the authenticity of Bolsonaro’s audio,” the news agency reported.

Gabrielle Reyes