“Didn’t know” is the most common phrase heard among truck drivers and leaders of national class federations and unions about the truck driver Marcos Antônio Pereira Gomes, the “Zé Trovão”, considered a fugitive from justice and one of the leaders who mobilized pocketmen to participate in the acts of September 7th.
It was on social networks that Zé Trovão gained popularity among supporters, around July, when he began to summon supporters of the president to protest against the ministers of the Federal Court of Justice (STF) and ask for the approval of the vote printed by the Chamber of Deputies, an agenda overturned in the House. In August, it became the target of Alexandre de Moraes in the investigation of undemocratic acts and was prohibited from being within a radius of one kilometer of the Praça dos Três Poderes, the ministers of the STF and the senators.
The truck driver began posting videos on YouTube six months ago, on the channel “Zé Trovão avoz das Estradas”, unavailable in Brazil due to a court order in August. On the page, the first videos are already politically inflamed and with few views.
The first call was made for May 1st, in which it asked for a national mobilization. “We will be supporting our president, telling him: ‘President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, we Brazilians authorize you to act immediately. Do the long-awaited cleaning,” he says. The video has about 100 views.
In other videos, he attacks leaders of groups of truck drivers, such as National Confederation of Autonomous Transporters (CNTA). The video has 69 views. When contacted, the CNTA said it did not know Zé Trovão.
The truck driver is described in the middle as “a movement agitator”. According to the state, there is a climate of fear among the truck drivers themselves about the acts of September 7th.
Zé Trovão’s videos, previously taken on a truck ride – in which you can see a Brazilian flag in the background and in which he even divulged a WhatsApp number – suddenly gained aesthetic improvements and began to be made in other places. The views went from hundreds to thousands – and to tens of thousands, in some cases, when the call for an event scheduled for September 7th began.
The call has already started in the first days of July. “The main part of the project is the dismissal of the 11 justices of the STF, the judgment of their crimes and the printed vote with the public counting”, says Zé Trovão, in a video of the 15th of July. “We are going to take this to Brasília, with a large encampment, which we are estimating to reach 10 million people encamped. How will this camp happen? We will have communal kitchens for everyone to eat.”
Also in this same video, Zé Trovão asks the demonstrators for common sense. “Guys, I want to make one thing clear to you: it’s not a walk in the park. Let’s have the simplicity of everything so that the cost doesn’t get so high. Because agribusiness, entrepreneurs are going to help us. These men will help us financially, so we need to be a little bit aware.” He ends the call stating that Brazil is in a “state of war”. “It’s the Brazilians warring against the dirty vultures that occupy the STF seats and guerillas against the Congress that has not yet approved the printed vote with public counting. This is non-negotiable”, he concludes.
Since then, Zé Trovão has appeared alongside deputies as Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP) and Nelson Bearded (PSL-MT).
Without producing videos on YouTube for two weeks, Zé Trovão migrated to Telegram, in a channel with just over 20,000 followers. There, he broadcasts the videos asking truck drivers to keep up the protests. At dawn on Thursday, he asked them to continue with the closing of the streets even after the president asked them to back down.
“President, the people need you. We were on the street in May, May 1st, May 15th, August 1st. You are our last salvation because we are on your side. We’re going to lock up all of Brazil because we’re on your side,” he argued, in a video published minutes after Bolsonaro’s audio.
Found by the Federal Police in Mexico, the truck driver published dozens of videos between the morning and afternoon of this Thursday about his current situation. At first, he said he would surrender, but he soon backed down. “I am once again on the run. I’m not going to give myself up,” he said.
He still insists on calling truck drivers to protest, but asks them not to support Bolsonaro in actions. “The stoppages need to have banners with the face of Alexandre de Moraes, asking for his impeachment. Take off the banners that ask for Bolsonaro’s support, for God’s sake.”
A few moments after the publication of this video, the truck driver appears in a video alongside the blogger Oswaldo Eustáquio – who had his arrest decreed by the STF minister Alexandre de Moraes for the fourth time – in Mexico City. The reason was the realization of a live with Zé Trovão.
This Thursday afternoon, PSL deputies said they would file a possible habeas corpus for Zé Trovão. “Freedom of expression is one of the most valuable fundamental rights provided for in our FC and needs to be defended by each one of us at all times and at all costs. Let’s win together!”, wrote on Twitter the leader of the party in the Chamber, Major Victor Hugo (GO).