Brazil’s truckers have pledged to continue a four-day strike that has wreaked havoc on the economy, saying a temporary cut in diesel fuel prices doesn’t meet their demands.
From a lack of buns at McDonald’s to restrictions on airline traffic, shortages of goods and services spread throughout the country on Thursday. Sugar mills halted operations due to the lack of diesel, following a handful of car assembly plants that shut down the day before because they ran out of parts and couldn’t get vehicles to dealers.
Truck drivers gather on a highway during a protest against rising fuel prices in Luziania, Brazil on May 23.
Photographer: Andre Coelho/Bloomberg
Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras, said on Wednesday it would cut the price of diesel by 10 percent for a fortnight. Congress too started voting measures that would eliminate some of the numerous taxes on fuels. The first move spooked Petrobras investors, while the other has the finance ministry worrying over forgone revenue. And neither appeased the truckers.
Jose da Fonseca Lopes, head of the truckers’ association Abcam, told Band News radio that the strike would only end once the fuel tax elimination was made official and published in the official gazette. The strike broke on Monday over fuel price increases of around 50 percent over 12 months that squeezed truckers’ profit margins.
Petrobras chief Pedro Parente was meeting with President Michel Temer and Finance Minister Eduardo Guardia in Brasilia on Thursday morning to discuss the situation.
The airport in Brasilia, the nation’s capital, is only allowing planes that have sufficient fuel for their onward journey to land. Throughout the country, lines have formed at gas stations some of which, according to press reports, are charging double the normal price.
State-controlled mail company Correios suspended deliveries with set times and increased the number of days estimated for standard delivery of packages. Other members of the transport sector — including Sao Paulo’s union of motorcycle delivery workers — plan to join the strike, newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported.
One supermarket in Rio de Janeiro was out of potatoes, tomatoes and carrots and was running low on eggs.
General Motors, Honda, and Toyota had said they have had to halt production for a lack of parts and faced difficulty in the distribution of vehicles to dealerships. The automakers association said that if the strike continues all manufacturers will shut down operations.
Brazil, whose territory is larger than that of the continental U.S., relies heavily on trucks to move cargo as it has only a small network of railways that cater mostly to shipping raw materials such as iron ore or soybeans.
— With assistance by Christiana Sciaudone, Maria Luiza Rabello, Leonardo Lara, and Sabrina Valle
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