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

Economy Oct 31, 2022 09:52PM ET
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5/5 © Reuters. Brazil's former President and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts at an election night gathering on the day of the Brazilian presidential election run-off, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, October 30, 2022. REUTERS/Mariana Grei 2/5
 
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By Anthony Boadle and Ana Mano

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) -President Jair Bolsonaro will not publicly address his defeat in Brazil's presidential election until Tuesday, a minister said, amid doubts over whether the far-right nationalist will accept the victory of his leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro was holding off on making remarks so he could prepare a speech, Communications Minister Fabio Faria told Reuters. But it was not clear if Bolsonaro would concede defeat, as his allies were encouraging him to do.

Brazil is on edge, with pro-Bolsonaro truckers setting up roadblocks throughout the country to protest Lula's return to power. Some truckers posted videos calling for a military coup.

The protests that spread from the first roadblocks in farm states did not immediately disrupt grain shipments by the top food producing country, but agricultural lobbies warned they may eventually affect exports.

Brazil's federal highway police said 321 protests had partially or fully blocked roads in 26 states. Truckers - who have benefited from Bolsonaro lowering diesel costs - are one of the president's key constituencies, and they have been known to disrupt Brazil's economy when they shut down highways.

Faria, the communications minister, said Bolsonaro was working with his solicitor general to determine measures to clear the highways.

The truckers were hoping Bolsonaro would endorse their roadblocks, but the president's political aides were urging him to accept his electoral defeat to quell the spreading protests, a senior staffer at his campaign headquarters said.

While the president had not conceded, his associates held the first contacts with the Lula camp on a future transition.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao spoke by telephone with Lula's vice president-elect Geraldo Alckmin and recognized Lula's victory, a spokesman for Alckmin said.

Later, Workers Party president Gleisi Hoffmann called Bolsonaro's chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira for what her spokeswoman called a "cordial" and "respectful" conversation.

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

Lula's win represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old former metalworker, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 but then spent time in prison for corruption convictions that were later annulled.

Lula has vowed to overturn many of Bolsonaro's policies, including pro-gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) rainforest.

Environmentalists and sustainable investors cheered Lula's victory and his commitment to protect the rainforest and restore Brazil's leadership on climate change.

Even before he is due to take office on Jan. 1, President-elect Lula will send representatives to next month's COP27 United Nations climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, allied environmentalist Marina Silva said on Monday.

In his victory speech on Sunday evening, Lula pledged to strongly police illegal logging, mining and land grabbing that have driven the surging destruction of the Amazon rainforest in the past four years under Bolsonaro.

Pitching the contest as a battle for democracy, Lula promised to unite his deeply divided country and celebrated what he called his "resurrection."

"I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and 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 Electoral Court (TSE) declared Lula won 50.9% of votes, against 49.1% for Bolsonaro, who becomes the first Brazilian incumbent to lose a presidential election.

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION

Lula's win consolidates a new "pink tide" in Latin America, and means the left will govern all the region's major economies after a string of electoral successes from Mexico to Argentina in recent years.

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 future that begins today."

U.S. President Joe Biden moved quickly to congratulate Lula, calling the election "free, fair and credible."

Congratulations 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 sparked fears over the handover of power.

Markets braced for a volatile week. Brazil's real currency gained more than 2% against the dollar, while the Bovespa was up 0.6% in choppy trading.

Lula's win was a rebuke for the fiery far-right populism of Bolsonaro, who lost support as Brazil ran up one of the worst death tolls of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lula has vowed a return to state-driven 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-driven economic boom and he left office with record popularity.

However, his Workers Party was later tarred by a deep recession and a record-breaking corruption scandal that jailed him for 19 months on bribery convictions, which were overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

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

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Comments (10)
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Nov 01, 2022 5:43AM ET
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Truckers blocking the road, people not satisfied with the democratic election result, protests in the streets, Bolsenaro not accepting his defeat.....Its sounds like something we have heard before a little bit up north, it usually does not end well for the protesters trying to overtrow democracy.
John Laurens
John Laurens Oct 31, 2022 8:13PM ET
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Poor Brazilians got bidened on this one! There will be a couple million more Brazilians crossing the border by April. This is gonna be Venezuela 2.0 ~ just watch!
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 31, 2022 8:13PM ET
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it's obvious you have no idea what you're talking about
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Oct 31, 2022 8:13PM ET
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I see you think it would have been better to serve the rich and leave the poor in their quarters with their guns. Maybe brazil should consider to do what most countries in the world are doing. Ban all guns and enforce it big time.
Eric Miner
Eric Miner Oct 31, 2022 8:02PM ET
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Let the crime wave begin.
Tee Seng
Tee Seng Oct 31, 2022 7:46PM ET
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If Bolsonaro attempts a 6/1 act, like his traitorous mentor, he'll be the world's 2nd laughingstock and 2nd fool - his mentor being Number 1 🤣
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 31, 2022 6:26PM ET
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will bolsonaro crawl out of the woodwork again and cry "rigged elections" like the other orange loser up north?
Tiro Koci
Tiro Koci Oct 31, 2022 6:26PM ET
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yo u know crime is nasty in Brazil and this ******bag wants to ban guns for citizens who need them to protect themselves. I have a lot of friends who got robbed at gunpoint in their house. it's disgusting how these leftist love crime
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 31, 2022 6:26PM ET
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at "gunpoint" is exactly the problem. limiting guns to military use only, while helping and educating the poor will go a long way to solve the problem. more guns to everyone will only increase the problem.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 31, 2022 6:26PM ET
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and yes, violent crime in Brazil is a real problem, I nearly ecaped it myself in Rio, and it has only gotten worse under bolsonaro. time to think new!
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Oct 31, 2022 10:40AM ET
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anybody is better than bolsenaro for Brazil, he only cares about himself and what to put in his pockets.
Jose Almeida
Jose Almeida Oct 31, 2022 10:23AM ET
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When Lula talks about democracy, remember that he recognizes the Cuban regime as a democracy as much as Venezulela.
John Laurens
John Laurens Oct 31, 2022 10:23AM ET
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EXACTLY!
CJ Burton
CJ Burton Oct 31, 2022 9:53AM ET
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Are Liberals really that gullible? I convicted criminal who says he is there to help... Bless their hearts.
Fabricio Rossato
Fabricio Rossato Oct 31, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Limiting the destruction of the rainforest to 15-year high is fake news. In previous Lula's government, the deforestation areas were significantly bigger than Bolsonaro. Fake news.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Oct 31, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Wrong. Get your facts straight.
Fabricio Rossato
Fabricio Rossato Oct 31, 2022 9:40AM ET
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Brad Albright  wrong. get you facts right. As a Brazilian, I know what I am talking about. You just trust the media..
Martin Wyckoff
Wyckoff Oct 31, 2022 3:09AM ET
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Amazon rainforest is not the AMZN ticker
Ogo Pogo
Ogo Pogo Oct 31, 2022 3:09AM ET
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Not yet
Kendi Yamazaki
Kendi Yamazaki Oct 31, 2022 3:09AM ET
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hahahaha
 
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