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

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – President Jair Bolsonaro will not publicly announce his defeat in Brazil’s presidential election until Tuesday, a minister said, amid doubts that a far-right nationalist would accept the victory of his leftist rival Luis Inacio. Lula de Silva.

Bolsonaro refrained from making a statement and could prepare a speech, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters. But it is unclear whether Bolsonaro will accept defeat as his allies cheer him on.

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

The protests, which spread from the first roadblocks in farm states, did not immediately disrupt grain shipments by the top food producer, but the agriculture lobby warned they could eventually affect exports.

Brazil’s federal highway police said 321 protests had partially or completely blocked roads in 26 states. Truck drivers – who have benefited from Bolsonaro’s diesel cost cuts – are one of the president’s key constituencies, and are known to disrupt Brazil’s economy when they block highways.

Communications Minister Faria said Bolsonaro would work with his solicitor general to determine measures to clear the highways.

The truckers hoped Bolsonaro would approve their roadblocks, but the president’s political aides urged him to concede his election defeat to quell the spreading protests, a senior staffer at his campaign headquarters said.

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Although the president was not accepted, his allies made the first contacts with the Lula camp for the future transition.

Vice President Hamilton Morao recognized Lula’s victory on the phone with Lula’s vice president-elect, Geraldo Alcmin, a spokesman for Alcmin said.

Later, Labor Party President Gleisi Hoffmann called her spokeswoman for Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, a “friendly” and “respectful” conversation.

The outgoing president has yet to call his rival to congratulate him on becoming Brazil’s next president.

Lula’s victory represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metalworker, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but was jailed on corruption charges that was later overturned.

Lula has vowed to undo many of Bolsonaro’s policies, including pro-gun measures and lax protection of the Amazon rainforest.

Environmentalists and sustainability investors cheered Lula’s victory and his commitment to protecting rainforests and restoring Brazil’s leadership on climate change.

Ahead of his inauguration on January 1, President-elect Lula will send delegates to next month’s COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, fellow environmentalist Marina Silva said on Monday.

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In his victory speech on Sunday evening, Lula vowed to toughen up the illegal logging, mining and land grabbing that has decimated the Amazon rainforest over the past four years under Bolsonaro.

Lula, who began the contest as a fight for democracy, promised to unite his deeply divided country and celebrated what he called a “resurrection”.

“I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, not just for those who voted for me,” Lula said at his campaign headquarters. “We are one country, one people, one great nation.”

The Supreme Court (TSE) announced that Lula won 50.9% of the vote, against Bolsonaro’s 49.1%, becoming the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election.

Brazilian election Lula wins Brazilian election

International recognition

Lula’s victory confirms a new “pink wave” in Latin America, where the left will control all the region’s major economies after a string of electoral victories in recent years, from Mexico to Argentina.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez flew to Sao Paulo to meet Lula on Monday and hailed “a new era for the history of Latin America. A time of hope and a future that begins today.”

US President Joe Biden was quick to congratulate Lula, calling the election “free, fair and credible”.

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Greetings also poured in from other foreign leaders, including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

But Bolsonaro’s prolonged silence has fueled fears of a handover.

Markets braced for a volatile week. Brazil’s real gained more than 2% against the dollar, while the Bovespa (.BVSP) rose 0.6% in choppy trade.

Lula’s victory was a rebuke to Bolsonaro’s fiery far-right populism, which has lost support as Brazil takes one of the worst death tolls from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lula has promised to return to the state-led economic growth and social policies that helped lift millions out of poverty during his two terms as president.

A former union leader born into poverty, Lula’s presidency was marked by a commodity-based economic boom and he left office with record popularity.

However, his Labor party was later tarred by a deep recession and a record corruption scandal, leading to 19 months in prison on bribery charges, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

Reporting by Anthony Bodle and Ricardo Brito in Brasilia, Brian Ellsworth, Ana Mano, Gabriel Araujo and Lisandra Paraguay in Sao Paulo; Written by Frank Jack Daniel and Anthony Boadle, edited by Brad Haynes, Angus MacSwan, Rosalba O’Brien and Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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