President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil urged participants in what he called "legitimate" protests to "unblock the roads" and demonstrate elsewhere, as his supporters pushed this week for a military coup to keep him in office.
In Brazil's major cities, supporters of the departing leader demonstrated in front of military installations and blocked highways in more than half of the country's states. Demonstrators, unwilling to accept the election loss of former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, blocked autoroutes and caused nationwide disruptions for over three days. More than 270 roadblocks were reported on Tuesday.
"I am appealing to them to clear the roads," Bolsonaro stated late the next day. The far-right leader stated that the roadblocks "do not appear to be part of legitimate demonstrations," adding that "other demonstrations taking place in squares throughout Brazil" were "welcome" and "part of the democratic game."
After days of silence, Bolsonaro gave a brief speech on Tuesday in which he neither conceded defeat nor congratulated Lula. However, his chief of staff later took the podium to announce that the president had authorized the transition to a new government.
However, many supporters refused to back down. Some of the thousands gathered in front of the Southeastern Military Command in the country's largest city, So Paulo, chanted "Federal intervention now!"
"We desire a federal intervention because we seek our liberty. "We do not accept that a thief governs us," 70-year-old Angela Cosac told AFP, referring to the corruption allegations against Lula, which led to his imprisonment and subsequent release.
Several mobilizations were marred by violence and threats. CNN reported that at a roadblock near the town of Mirassol in the state of So Paulo, a motorist drove into a crowd of protesters, injuring at least seven people. On Wednesday, protesters in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina were captured on camera making Nazi salutes.
Thousands gathered in Brasilia, chanting "civil resistance," while in the rainy downtown of Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators were captured on film yelling "Lula, thief, your place is in prison."
After the Supreme Federal Court ordered the use of "all necessary measures" to open the roads, military police in So Paulo used tear gas to disperse a blockade on the main highway linking the state to the country's central-west region.
The blockades caused nationwide disruptions. According to the airport's press office, 48 flights were canceled due to the protests at Sao Paulo's primary airport.
Bolsonaro stated on Tuesday that protesters should not "use the methods of the left" that "prevent freedom of movement," adding that the roadblocks were "the result of anger and a sense of injustice over the electoral process."
"Peaceful demonstrations are always welcome," he said.
Some supporters interpreted this as a call to continue the demonstrations.