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Airlines fear fuel shortage if pro-Bolsonaro road blockades continue

Brazilian airline association Abear on Tuesday showed concern that the pro-Bolsonaro highway blockades could soon cause fuel shortages to carriers “if the current scenario persists after the November 2 holiday.”

Groups that support President Jair Bolsonaro began obstructing highways across the country after he lost re-election to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday, in the tightest election in Brazil’s democratic history. The demonstrators reject the results and are calling for a military coup to prevent the transition of power over the next two months.

The protests — especially one close to the São Paulo-Guarulhos Airport, Brazil’s busiest — are harming essential services such as “transporting organs for transplantation, as well as cargo shipment in general.”

Airlines recommended passengers with booked flights leave for the airport many hours in advance to avoid trouble. Carriers’ staffers have reportedlyd to reach airports and related struggle offices. Dozens of flights were canceled on Tuesday.

Protesters were initially allowed to disturb highways without much interference from the Federal Highway Police (PRF, the same force that on Sunday was involved in alleged cases of vote suppression in Lula-leaning areas). On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered immediate action against the protesters.

Saying the highway police is acting with “omission and inertia,” Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes determined a BRL 100,000 (USD 19,000) per-hour fine to PRF chief Silvinei Vasques for disobedience. Mr. Vasques could even be expelled from his post.

On Tuesday morning, the PRF said it had ended 288 blockades already — 267 remained active.

The São Paulo Military Police, meanwhile, say 42 highways have been cleared. Another 78 remain partially obstructed, and 20 remain blocked. In Rio de Janeiro, Mayor Eduardo Paes authorized the municipal guard to act to remove protesters.

In Minas Gerais, Governor Romeu Zema said the “elections are over” and awning state security forces to “clear any road blocked by demonstrators.”

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