Jair Bolsonaro has been defeated in last month’s presidential election, but the far-right ideology is still very much alive in Brazil, said Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday.

“We defeated Bolsonaro,” he told a room packed with supporters in Portugal’s capital Lisbon. “(But) Bolsonarismo is still alive and we need to defeat it … Let’s defeat it, but not using the methods they used against us.”

“We don’t want persecution … violence. We want a country that lives in peace,” said Lula who, before arriving in Portugal, attended the UN climate conference COP27 in the Egyptian sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

His remarks came as truck drivers in Brazil blocked highways Friday as supporters of outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro continued to demonstrate against Lula’s victory in a presidential runoff with the authorities registering 17 roadblocks across the country.

Between Oct 30 and Nov 9, authorities arrested 49 people allegedly involved in the roadblocks, with the highest number of arrests in the southern state of Santa Catarina, according to Brazilian news portal G1.

Demonstrations began after many supporters of Bolsonaro failed to recognize Lula’s victory in the tight runoff late last month, claiming the election was stolen.

There was not any indication of election irregularity in Brazil, while overseas, the results were quickly recognized by various leaders.

A report by Brazil’s Defense Ministry last week found no electoral irregularities in a detailed document provided to electoral authorities.

Bolsonaro lost to Lula, who garnered 50.9 percent of the vote compared to Bolsonaro’s 49.1 percent, according to Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court.

During the UN conference, Lula, who will assume his office on Jan 1, promised to protect the Amazon by cracking down on illegal deforestation, revive relationships with countries that finance forest protection efforts and push to host an upcoming world climate summit in the rainforest.

In two appearances, da Silva laid out a vision for management of the world’s largest rainforest, critical to fighting climate change, that was in stark contrast to that of President Jair Bolsonaro, whose administration witnessed some of the most rapid cutting of forests in decades.

“There will be no climate security if the Amazon isn’t protected,” said da Silva, adding that all crimes in the forest, from illegal logging to mining, would be cracked down on “without respite.”

Brazilian presidents have a wide range of powers when it comes to monitoring and regulating the Amazon. The Ministry of Environment oversees the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, known as Ibama, which patrols the forests. Federal police work across Brazil, including in states with large forest areas, and the armed forces can also be deployed.

Bolsonaro, who pushed development both in his pro-business rhetoric and policies, made several moves that weakened protections. For example, he appointed forest managers from the agribusiness sector, which opposes the creation of protected areas such as Indigenous territories and pushes for the legalization of land robbing.

Many Brazil experts have argued those changes opened the door to widespread criminality: the deforested area in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high from August 2020 to July 2021, according to official figures. Satellite monitoring shows the trend this year is on track to surpass last year.

The Amazon rainforest, which covers parts of several nations in South America, combats climate change by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. It’s also home to some of the planet’s most unique animals and plants, along with tribes that have lived in the forest for thousands of years.

The appearance at COP27 of da Silva, who made an extraordinary political comeback after being convicted of corruption and jailed a few years ago, lent both symbolic and practical weight to discussions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help developing nations confront the impacts of climate change. That’s because da Silva oversaw large reductions in deforestation as president between 2003 and 2010.


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