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News > Latin America

Brazil Comes to Halt as Truck Drivers Strike for 4th Day

  • Brazilian truck drivers block the BR-116 highway in Curitiba.

    Brazilian truck drivers block the BR-116 highway in Curitiba. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 May 2018

Sao Paulo city hall announced that approximately 40 percent of the city's public bus fleet will be removed from circulation Thursday.

Truck drivers in Brazil have entered their fourth day of strike, blocking major highways in at least 24 states, including the Federal District. The move comes despite Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, temporarily cutting diesel prices by 10 percent on Wednesday in an attemp to curb the protests.

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The stoppage, the result of increased fuel costs, (over 56 percent since July) has caused widespread deficiencies in the distribution of petrol, food and other items and services.

There's a lack of produce, fruits and vegetables at Rio de Janeiro's main marketplace called Ceasa. Price gauging is also taking place due to the lack of some products. The cost of a sack of potatoes, which previously sold for R$60 (Approximately US$16.45), now costs R$400 (approximately US$110).

Of the 340 truck deliveries that were scheduled for Wednesday, only 75 made it to Ceasa.

Sao Paulo city hall announced Wednesday night that approximately 40 percent of the city's public bus fleet will be removed from circulation on Thursday due to the truck driver's strike and the inability to re-fuel public transportation sites.

City hall also informed that if the strike persists until Friday, trash collection can be hampered. It noted that the “municipal administration will solicit the Justice (Department) to suspend the blockages of fuel distribution centers.”

Brazil's postal service has temporarily suspended expedited delivery services nationwide.

The Brazilian Company of Airport Infrastructure (Infraero) released a statement alerting that airports in Congonhas (Sao Paulo), as well as the cities of Palmas, Recife, Maceio and Aracaju have run out of fuel to supply airplanes as of Wednesday. Congonhas is one of the three most busy airports in Brazil, according to Revista Forum.

Another six airports only have enough airplane fuel for the next two days, reported the Support Unit and Operational Management. They include airports in the cities of Goiania, Teresina, Campo Grande, Ilheus, Foz do Iguazu and Londrina.

The government of senate-imposed President Michel Temer began a daily readjustment policy of the cost of oil derivatives on July 3, 2017. Since then, Petrobras, Brazil's majority state-owned oil company, has raised the price of diesel fuel in its refineries 121 times, representing an increase of 56.5 percent.

Congressman Ivan Valente, of the Socialism and Liberty Party, (PSOL) tweeted that the “truck drivers' strike has the potential to bring down the unpopular, moribund, corrupt government of (Michel) Temer.”

Petrobras Chief Executive Officer, Pedro Parente, said Wednesday's 10 percent price cut, will only remain in place for 15 days and cost the company about 350 million reais ($96 million), according to Reuters.

“The independence of Petrobras has not been damaged,” Parente said, claiming that the price cut “was an exceptional measure and does not represent a change to our pricing policy.”

Temer, for his part, had urged for “a type of truce for two or three days at most for us to find a satisfactory solution for Brazilians and for the truckers.”

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