Election campaign in Brazil hit by outcry over roadblocks

Election campaign in Brazil hit by outcry over roadblocks


Brazil’s election chief on Sunday announced the lifting of traffic police roadblocks that voters had “delayed” during a high-level presidential election after the blockades prompted an outcry from the left.

“A decision has been made to end these operations to avoid delaying voters,” Chief Electoral Judge Alexandre de Moraes said at a news conference with just over an hour before the polls closed.

Leaders of the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) shared numerous videos on social media of voters’ buses stopping at roadblocks, mainly in the electoral stronghold of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010).

“What is happening in the Northeast is unacceptable,” wrote Lula, 77.

However, Moraes said that “no bus was turned down and everyone was able to vote”.

On Saturday night, the Supreme Electoral Court banned any operation by the Traffic Police (PRF) that would obstruct voters.

PT President Gleisi Hoffman wrote on Twitter that she had called for the arrest of traffic police chief Silvinei Vasques for “failing to comply” with the decision.

The controversial Vasques posted an Instagram Story on Sunday morning urging Brazilians to vote for far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

The Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported more than 500 roadblocks as of midday, up 70 percent from the first round of voting on Oct. 2.

“PRF agents are preventing voters from voting in Garanhuns, Lula’s birthplace,” PT Senator Humberto Costa wrote on Twitter, sharing a video showing a bus stopping at a roadblock.

According to the news website O Globo, around a hundred tribal people from Querencia in the central-western state of Mato Grosso complained that they could not vote due to the lack of public transport.

The newspaper also reported 200 kilometers of traffic jams in the greater Rio de Janeiro area.

The subway in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the key state of Minas Gerais, did not run for free early Sunday, as ordered by the elections authority.

This was only implemented halfway through the day after Judge de Moraes intervened.

Analysts have said that abstention in Brazil’s poorest regions is a factor that could have a significant impact on an extremely close race.

In a first ballot, Lula emerged victorious with 48 percent of the vote, compared to 43 percent for the incumbent.

“A coup d’état is underway to use the PRF to prevent poor people from voting for Lula,” political scientist Christian Lynch tweeted.

De Moraes said the situation has been resolved and “there will be no postponement of the end of voting”.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement it was “extremely concerned” about the operation.

“The authorities should immediately comply with the court’s decisions, suspend all operations that may result in voter suppression, and ensure that all voters can exercise their right to vote freely and safely.”

The hashtag #Deixeonordoestevotar (Let the Northeast Choose) went viral on social media in Brazil.

More to explorer