STORY: As protesters - inflamed by Brazil’s recent electoral results - blocked highways in more than 200 locations, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro broke his silence, Tuesday… but avoided conceding defeat to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Speaking to the public for the first time since losing Sunday’s runoff election to former president Lula – Bolsonaro said the protests were the fruit of "indignation and a sense of injustice" over the vote.
But the President – who has made baseless claims the electoral system was open to fraud - said he will let Brazil’s constitution lead him:
“As long as I am President of the Republic and citizen, I will keep following all our Constitution’s mandates. It’s an honour being the leader of millions of Brazilians..."
And without admitting defeat, Bolsonaro walked away.
It was then his Chief of Staff told reporters Bolsonaro had authorized him to begin the transition to a Lula government, which is set to begin on Jan. 1.
Lula's victory represents a stunning comeback for the 77-year-old who spent 19 months in jail for corruption convictions before they were annulled last year.
Some of Bolsonaro's hardline supporters have called for a military coup to keep Bolsonaro in power and stop Lula from returning to power.
And many pro-Bolsonaro demonstrators, like truck driver Jose Carlos, were blockading highways in a show of force:
"We must take the measures that he (eds note: refers to President Jair Bolsonaro) cannot take, and with this measure, we are here triggering a federal intervention from the Brazilian army. The armed forces must take action because Brazil is already out of control."
In Sao Paulo, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a demonstration… after the governor and the Supreme Court ordered police to remove scores of blockades that have affected the transportation of food and fuel, as well as Brazil’s ability to send grains to port.
Lula has vowed to overturn many of Bolsonaro's policies, including pro-gun measures and weak protection of the Amazon rainforest.