© Reuters. Members of the Parana State Military Police and Federal Highway Police stand on a road as supporters of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, mainly truck drivers, block a highway during a protest over Bolsonaro’s defeat in the presidential run-off election,
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian authorities said on Wednesday they are making headway in their efforts to clear blockades set up across the country by truckers to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s narrow loss to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in an Oct. 30 runoff election.
Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) said protesters were blocking highways partially or fully in 146 locations as of early Wednesday evening, down from around 190 the previous night. The blockades began Sunday after polls closed in Brazil.
Although smaller than in previous days, the protests are still likely disrupting fuel distribution, industrial activity, food deliveries to supermarkets and shipments of grains to ports.
Anvisa, the national health agency, warned that the blockades could lead to shortages of medical supplies.
ANP, the oil regulator, changed rules related to minimum fuel storage requirements on distribution sites and relaxed cooking gas bottling requirements in a bid to prevent potential energy shortages.
Abear, a trade group which represents Brazilian airlines, warned that the jet fuel supplies may be compromised.
“Authorities must urgently lift blockades and roads giving access to airports,” said Eduardo Sanovicz, head of Abear.
Police said 688 roadblocks had been cleared across the country, though roads remained blocked or partially blocked in 17 of Brazil’s 26 states, most notably in farm states like Santa Catarina and Mato Grosso, where Bolsonaro has strong popular support.
A right-wing nationalist, Bolsonaro has not conceded defeat but has stopped short of contesting the election result and has authorized his chief of staff to begin the transition process with Lula’s representatives.
In remarks on Tuesday, the Brazilian president said the protests resulted from “indignation and a sense of injustice” over the vote, and he did not explicitly ask his supporters to take down the blockades or stop the protests.
The Justice Ministry on Wednesday said more than 900 fines had been issued against drivers who are participating in the protests and using vehicles to block roads.
Truckers, a key Bolsonaro constituency that benefited from his policies to lower fuel prices, have disrupted the Brazilian economy by shutting highways in recent years.
Some of the protesters have called for military intervention to keep Bolsonaro in power.
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