In Brazil, Bolsonaro voters protest against his defeat

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Tens of thousands of Brazilians wearing yellow and green, the colors of the national flag, gathered Tuesday across the country to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in last month’s election and asking for the armed forces to intervene.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians flocked outside a regional military facility to denounce what they see as an unfair or stolen election, defying a recent Supreme Court order to free up roads and public spaces. None of the institutions certified to audit the election, including the Ministry of Defense and Brazilian Bar Association, have found evidence of fraud.

Domingues Carvalho, 63, has been protesting for 15 days straight.

“I’m fighting for my country, for my daughter and three grandchildren,” he said, adding that he sometimes kneels down in front of the military’s building to pray. “I’ll stay here as long as necessary. We are peaceful but we will never, ever leave our country in the hands of communists.”

Two weeks have passed since former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva beat Bolsonaro in one of the tightest presidential races, with just 50.9% of the votes. Although the Bolsonaro administration has not opposed the transition of power, the far-right leader has yet to concede or congratulate his opponent.

Many of his supporters are taking the cue, and refusing to accept the result. At one point, they threatened to paralyze the country with more than 1,000 blocked highways and roads. On Nov. 11, the Supreme Court ordered law enforcement to liberate all roads and public spaces.

“This election was not fair,” said 51 year-old entrepreneur Anselmo do Nascimento. “The Supreme Court should be neutral.”

Protesters have also denounced the shutting down of many pro-Bolsonaro accounts and groups on social media platforms, from what they see as a biased electoral authority. They have described those decisions as akin to censorship.

In a New York City conference this week, Supreme Court justice and president of the electoral authority Alexandre de Moraes, said that “democracy was attacked, but it survived.”

“The judiciary was not co-opted, it was not expanded, it was a barrier to attacks on freedom,” he said.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the reliability of the nation’s electronic voting system. At one point he claimed to have proof of fraud but failed to present any when summoned by the electoral court.

Since losing the election, the usually brash right-wing leader has been eerily silent and broadly absent from social media.

For 54 year-old Daniela Rodrigues, Bolsonaro, a former army captain, should remain in power with the help of the armed forces. Among other things, Rodrigues expressed distrust at official results showing that more than 100 ballot boxes across Brazil – out of over half a million – had 100% of votes for a single candidate, most of those being in favor of da Silva. “It’s now or never,” she said.

Similar protests are taking place in capital city Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and smaller cities, too.

In Brasilia, a team of journalists had to be escorted out of the crowd by the military, newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported. Police forces were blocking access to the vast square by the ministries and Congress, where protests usually occur.

Many protesters had hoped a report by the Ministry of Defense, which Bolsonaro has sought to involve in election oversight, would substantiate their claims. The document, published last week, proposed improvements to address some flaws in Brazil’s electoral systems, but it did not include any evidence of fraud.

The Attorney General’s Office reviewed the report and “found no concrete fact” that would justify opening an investigation on electronic voting machines, newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported Monday, citing documents.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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