- Thais Carrança
- From BBC News Brasil in São Paulo
“My life is destroyed, because I’m currently being politically persecuted, with a warrant for my arrest. And going through everything with the risk of never seeing my family again, because I’m not going to jail, because I’m not a criminal,” says Zé Trovão, as truck driver Marcos Antônio Pereira Gomes became known.
The content, published in the early hours of this Thursday (9/9), is one of the dozens of videos published by the Pocketnarista militant in recent weeks on his official channel on Telegram.
The channel is part of an alternative communication strategy, created after the minister of the STF (Supreme Court) Alexandre de Moraes ordered the blocking of the profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube of those investigated for “inciting the practice of violent and threatening acts against democracy”, such as Trovão himself, country singer Sérgio Reis and federal deputy Otoni de Paula (PSC-RJ), among others.
Fugitive and with an order of arrest, accused of inciting raids on the STF and Congress, the truck driver continued commanding the most radical wing of pocketnarism in the truck drivers’ strike that spread to at least 15 states after the protests through social networks and communication applications. of September 7th.
How did an unknown truck driver from Joinville (SC) become the radicalized leader of a nationwide coup demonstration?
There are few clues, given the longing of the best known truck leaders to distance themselves from the extremist militant, but here we tell what is known so far.
‘Zé Thunder? Do not know’
Some of the main leaders of the 2018 truck driver strike say they were unaware of Zé Trovão until his emergence on the national scene, calling for anti-democratic demonstrations on September 7 with Sérgio Reis’ group.
The name Zé Trovão refers to the character played by fellow countryman Almir Sater, in the soap opera The Story of Ana Raio and Zé Trovão, successor of Pantanal in the now extinct Rede Manchete.
“I don’t know him, I’ve never talked, I started to see him when he appeared with Sergio Reis”, says Wallace Landim, the Chorão. President of Abrava (Brazilian Association of Motor Vehicle Drivers) and a transporter for over 20 years, he was one of the leaders who gained prominence in the biggest recent protest in the category, during the Michel Temer (MDB) government.
“I’ve never heard of Zé Trovão in my life, except in that soap opera. This guy has never represented anyone, he doesn’t represent any category. This is a brood of agribusiness”, says Luciano Santos de Carvalho, president of Sindicam (Transporters Union Autonomous Highways for Bens da Baixada Santista and Vale do Ribeira).
“I’ve never heard of him in any movement. This guy needs to be arrested urgently, he’s a terrorist and he’s with Bolsonaro setting the country on fire,” says Wanderlei Alves, better known as Dedeco.
“It fell by parachute into last month’s printed vote movement and gained strength with hate speeches against the Supreme Court,” adds the truck leader from Paraná, who dropped the ride after 27 years after breaking with the Bolsonaro government.
From autonomous trucker to ‘Celetista’
If the 2018 leaders seek to distance themselves from this new 2021 leader and even question whether he really is a truck driver, in Santa Catarina, pocket drivers involved in the September 7 protests confirm that Zé Trovão is indeed part of the category and that he is mobilized since 2018, although without any role at that time.
“He used to be self-employed, today he is a CLT driver”, says a truck driver from Guaramirim (SC), who prefers not to have his name disclosed and who says he has known Pereira Gomes for about three years. CLT drivers are truck drivers who work for companies, under contract, unlike the self-employed, who own their own trucks and provide services to those who hire them.
“[Em 2018] he didn’t go to Brasília, but he was in the region’s struggle here. Regionally, it has been present, since 2018, at the stoppage”, completes the transporter.
According to the driver from Guaramirim, the guidelines defended by Zé Trovão in his videos – such as the printed vote and the impeachment of the ministers of the Supreme Court – find an echo in the region’s truck drivers.
“It has always been the agendas that we defended, in fact. I’m collaborating with the movement, I’m not leading, I participated in September 7 as a truck driver and as a citizen. We want the right to vote in print, we want to have the right to know on whom to fact was voted,” says the truck driver.
Self-employed Vs. Agribusiness Truck Drivers
José Cícero Rodrigues, former president of Sindicam de Santos, with 14 years of experience as leader of the category, also says he is unaware of Zé Trovão and is one more person who claims that the CLT truck driver is at the service of agribusiness. He explains that, since the 2018 strike, there has been a division between self-employed and agricultural contractors.
“In the 2018 strike, we supported Bolsonaro, believing that it would strengthen us in something, but for the self-employed truck driver it didn’t give anything. So whoever went to Brasília was not the self-employed truck driver, it was agribusiness, they have to know how to share that. The autonomous truck driver is not with the government, we are neutral”, says Rodrigues.
“In 2018, we just wanted the reduction of diesel oil and tolls, it was very simple. And there was no such thing, on the contrary: diesel oil increased, tolls increased, everything increased. So self-employed and agro-industry workers only stayed together in the 2018 strike , then each one divided to his/her side, because the interests are different”, affirms the Santos truck driver.
Wallace Landim, leader of the Midwest, also evaluates Zé Trovão as a representative of agribusiness and not the interests of the category. “It is a movement of a political nature, which does not have an agenda focused on the category. In this movement, it is clear that the agro people are very strong together. Even the trucks that were in Brasília, 90% are company trucks, which work with the agro people.”
According to Landim, it is still not clear what the interest of the agribusiness sector in this mobilization is, but he assesses that a vote in the STF scheduled for October 6, referring to Funrural (tax on rural production) may be one of the reasons behind pressure from businessmen in the agricultural sector on the constitutional court.
At the risk of being arrested at any time, Zé Trovão is already beginning to refer to himself as a political prisoner.
“At times, I must be arrested, I won’t run away anymore. Enough, I’m tired of it,” he said in a video this Thursday (9/9). “I’m in Mexico and the Brazilian embassy just got in touch with the hotel I’m staying at. So, in a few moments, the police will probably come here to pick me up and take me away.”
“I didn’t commit any crime. I’m going to Brazil, probably imprisoned. Politically imprisoned, for a crime of opinion. I ask all Brazilians: everything I’m doing is for our country, help us, for God’s sake.” , concluded.
The day before, after receiving the audio in which Bolsonaro asked truck drivers to end the road stoppages, the activist recorded an emotional appeal to the president, in which he also mentioned other targets of justice treated as political prisoners by pocketnaristas.
“We are here, we always support you. I am on the street, I am fighting together with the Brazilian people for your government, for you and for our country, our democracy,” he said. “So, President, take a good look at everything that is happening not only in my life, but in so many like Wellington Macedo, Oswaldo Eustáquio, Sara Winter, Daniel da Silveira.”
Blogger Wellington Macedo is, along with Zé Trovão, the target of investigations in the Supreme Court reported by Alexandre de Moraes, who determined on September 3 their preventive detention following a request from the Attorney General’s Office. Macedo has already been arrested by the Federal Police.
Oswaldo Eustáquio was arrested again on Tuesday (7/9), after having his accounts on social networks blocked on Monday, by order of Moraes, after the blogger made a live with Zé Trovão about the protests of the Independence holiday.
Sara Winter, an activist from the far-right armed group “300 do Brasil”, was arrested in June 2020 after a fireworks attack on the STF building, and released at the end of that month using an electronic ankle bracelet.
Federal Deputy Daniel Silveira (PSL-RJ) was arrested for attacks on STF ministers in February and again in June, after disrespecting the use of electronic ankle bracelets.
At the end of this Thursday morning, Zé Trovão said he had changed his mind about giving himself up. “I’m having to run away again, because I wanted to give myself up but no one wants to let go,” he said, without clarifying who isn’t leaving.
“People, let’s take to the streets now, let’s stop everything. Businessmen, close your companies, let’s take to the streets, let’s save our Brazil, there’s still time, I’m counting on you”, concluded the video, giving signs that his life of outlaw of justice must still have new chapters.
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