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Brazil: Cargo shipments blocked amid uprising, media embargo continues

Protesters return to streets with vengeance after Supreme Court justice freezes dissenters' bank accounts

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Yudi Sherman

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November 22, 2022

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12:49 AM

Brazil: Cargo shipments blocked amid uprising, media embargo continues

Circulating reports confirm that a trucker strike has cargo shipments piling up at the Port of Santos, Latin America’s largest port. The strike is the latest development in a three-week uprising by Brazilians protesting the results of this month’s federal election, which many say was fraudulent. 

Widespread claims of fraud in Brazil’s presidential election on November 2nd, in which Left-wing ex-convict Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ousted incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, sparked large-scale protests across the country. The protests are entering their fourth week.   

Lula, who spent 580 days in prison for corruption, won the most votes in the country’s history, but also by the narrowest margin for a presidential election in the country’s modern history. Many Brazilians are contesting the legitimacy of the election, citing independent analyses by the electoral authorities which found that machines that were not audited had a statistically significant difference (p=10-18) in voting outcome in favor of Lula, amounting conservatively in the 1st round to 2.4% of the votes transferred and, in the 2nd round, 3.3%.     

Protests erupted across the country following the results, with hundreds of thousands of Brazilian citizens blocking roads and even surrounding army barracks as they demand military intervention in election fraud. Law enforcement personnel have reportedly joined in the protests.  

Last week’s protests were the largest yet, with three million citizens clogging roads Tuesday in the capital Brasilía alone. In Rio de Janeiro about 500,000 protested in front of the old Ministry of Defense and demanded military intervention. Additional hundreds of thousands protested elsewhere throughout the country. 

In Belo Horizonte, demonstrators sing the National Anthem while raising the Brazilian flag in one hand and white flowers in the other. "Move now so we don't get stuck forever," said one Twitter user. 

In São Paulo, the demonstrators continue to protest in front of the Southeast Military Command, in Ibirapuera. 

"Truckers stopping, joining the movement against this corrupt government trying to install itself," said another netizen above footage of several trucks stopped at gas stations in the city of Barra dos Garças, Mato Grosso. 

 While many roads had since been unblocked after the demonstrations began earlier this month, demonstrators returned to the streets with vengeance Friday after Bolsonaro opponent and Superior Electoral Court (TSE) President Alexandre de Moraes froze the bank accounts of 43 people and companies who participated in protests.  

A general strike has been called in response, and enough truckers have joined the strike to cause a stoppage of cargo shipments at the Port of Santos. 

Moraes announced during the first week of protests that anyone who questioned the election results would be treated as a criminal in the name of democracy.    

"There is no way to contest the democratically obtained result with illicit, anti-democratic and criminal movements, which will be fought and held accountable. Democracy has won again in Brazil [...] This is democracy, this is alternation of power, this is a democratic state, and those who criminally are not accepting it will be treated as criminals and their responsibilities will be established," threatened Moraes, according to Brasil Sem Medo.  

Moraes made good on his word when he ordered Professor Marcos Cintra, an economist with four Harvard degrees who sits on the faculty of the prestigious Fundação Getúlio Vargas institution, to report to law enforcement after posting his doubts about the election results online. Moraes also slapped Professor Cintra, who is not a Bolsonaro supporter, with a R$20,000 (US$3, 798) fine.    

Two of the country’s most popular congressional candidates, both Bolsonaro allies, have been banned from social media on Moraes’ orders.    

Nikolas Ferreira, who won 1.5 million votes – the most nationwide – and Brazil’s third most popular candidate, Carla Zambelli, were both suppressed due to “disinformation”. 

While world media initially reported on the protests, their coverage of Brazil’s uprising has since gone dark. 

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