Why are Brazilians protesting en masse?

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In defiance of a Supreme Court order to clear the roads, supporters of outgoing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are protesting against what they call election fraud and demanding military intervention.

It’s been a little over two weeks since Brazilians found out that leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be returning as the country’s president after getting a very thin lead over Jair Bolsonaro.After first winning the presidential race 20 years ago, Lula, 77, is set to make a comeback. But not everyone is happy. Many people are out on the streets, protesting against what they call a stolen election, and calling on the country’s armed forces to intervene. Lula’s leftist credentials are also what are driving many protesters, for they fear he will bring communism to the country.Marcelo Elizardo, a Brazilian journalist, thinks people who are protesting appear to be Bolsonaro supporters, but adds that the protesters have been motivated through disinformation.“They believe the election was a scam,” he tells TRT World. “There is a belief among protesters that the elected government could bring communism. They are mainly driven by conspiracy theories, disseminated through Telegram and other (messaging) groups.” To identify disinformation being disseminated through social media is tricky. And its amplification through verified accounts, which are often perceived as credible, muddies the water.For example, a video doing the rounds on Twitter shows tens of thousands of Brazilian protesters and has been shared by many credible accounts. It is said to be filmed during the ongoing protests against election fraud and has garnered over one million views.Just that it’s fake.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stand behind a banner that reads in Portuguese “We, the people, elect the Armed Forces as a moderating power” as they protest against Bolsonaro’s run-off election loss outside Army headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

“This video is not from the current protests. This is from the Independence Day on September 7,” Lais Martins, a journalist from Brazil, tells TRT World.Martins says the numbers of the protesters are exaggerated. “The crowd is way smaller, not even a crowd to be honest. There are a few demonstrations around the country, but small.”Giovana Fleck, another Brazilian journalist who followed the presidential race and is now keeping a close watch on the protests, says she has observed that not everyone who is protesting is a supporter of the outgoing president.“This is a kind of a movement without a leader. Most of the supporters are very conservative and come from a very conservative family background, which is very much rooted in traditions and values – Christian values.”Fleck says the protesters want to protect their culture and their family system.The recently-concluded Brazilian elections were highly competitive. Lula did win, but with a very thin majority – securing just 50.9 percent of the votes, in what is being dubbed as one of the tightest presidential contests.According to the Associated Press, Brazil’s Ministry of Defence and Brazilian Bar Association, two of the institutions certified to audit the election, haven’t found any discrepancy or evidence of fraud during the electoral exercise.It is worth noting that so far Bolsonaro, 67, hasn’t officially conceded defeat or congratulated Lula on his election win. Bolsonaro hasn’t come out in support of the protests either.But, Elizardo says, the outgoing president was “not assertive in discouraging the protests” when they first started.“He took almost 48 hours to speak publicly after losing the election. In his speech, he did not emphatically recognise the result. He said people were protesting and closing roads because they mistrust the way the election was conducted,” he says.However, a few days later Bolsonaro appeared on a live stream, asking protesters to end the road blockades – an order also given by the country’s Supreme Court.Fleck, meanwhile, says the protests are still continuing, calling them “anti-constitutional”.“The protesters are calling for the military to intervene. It is definitely not a democratic protest. But still, it is happening,” she says. “I hope there is no more violence.”
Source: TRT World

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