Empty stores, shuttered gas posts in Brazil truckers’ strike

RIO DE JANEIRO — A truckers’ strike in Brazil left a patchwork of empty gas stations and barren grocery store cabinets Saturday as drivers appeared unmoved by the federal government’s threats to make use of power or tremendous individuals who didn’t comply.

Police forces performed operations to clear blocked roads and navy automobiles offered escorts for vans transporting emergency gas to police stations and military services in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

About half of the roadblocks all through the nation had been cleared by the afternoon, as truckers who encountered police complied to maneuver, mentioned a Rio police spokesman Jose Helio.

However, many truckers nonetheless refused to return to work. Some remained in their 18-wheelers alongside the highways, whereas others moved their automobiles to relaxation areas.

The affect was being felt throughout.

“There’s no food, no fuel,” mentioned Joao Roberto, an Uber driver in Rio de Janeiro who was parked at an empty gas station.

Roberto mentioned he crammed up 4 days in the past, however his tank was nearly empty.

On Friday, President Michel Temer licensed the navy to make use of power if want be. Moving in opposition to the truckers, nonetheless, may result in violence and wouldn’t clear up the bigger issues of getting automobiles off the roads and getting drivers again to work.

The Brazilian Association of Truckers, one of many largest transportation unions, referred to as on its members Friday to take away their vans from roadways however “continue to protest peacefully.” The union and a number of other others didn’t return calls searching for touch upon Saturday.

Perishable vegatables and fruits all however disappeared from native grocery store cabinets. At a number of Hortifruti chain tales in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, employees crammed vegetable crispers and cabinets with soda cans and baggage of rice.

A preferred Saturday farmers market, usually teeming with vegatables and fruits alongside a number of blocks, solely had a fraction of the products. Many distributors on the market had been charging double, saying they needed to pay extra to purchase what they might.

“This strike is killing us,” mentioned Manuel Reis, a watermelon vendor who solely offered about 880 kilos (400 kilograms) of the fruit on Saturday, about half of his standard.

Many gas stations nationwide have run out of diesel and gasoline and native managers say they don’t know when to count on extra deliveries.

Bus and metro providers in a number of Brazilian cities had been diminished and a number of other flights, largely home, had been canceled for a 3rd straight day on Saturday. Cities in the inside, additional away from refineries alongside the Brazilian coast, have been notably onerous hit.

The strike adopted complaints from truck drivers concerning the rising price of diesel oil, which has gone up sharply in current months as world oil costs rise and the Brazilian actual weakens in opposition to the U.S. greenback.

On Thursday, the federal government and a number of other transportation unions mentioned an settlement had been reached to droop the stoppage for 15 days to barter an answer. But many truckers balked, saying they didn’t really feel represented and didn’t belief the federal government to comply with via on guarantees.

The work stoppage comes as Latin America’s largest financial system struggles to maneuver past a deep recession and lots of Brazilians are livid with politicians in the wake of a mega scandal involving kickback scheme between development corporations and elected officers.

Economists say there isn’t any simple solution to clear up the deadlock, as rising world oil costs depart the federal government little room to maneuver. Significantly decreasing the worth would require steep cuts in taxes, notably tough at a time when many states, akin to Rio de Janeiro, have their very own fiscal crises.

“I do not believe that the price of oil will go down and I don’t think that the real will gain on the U.S. dollar,” mentioned Andre Perfeito, chief economist at Spinelli CVMC, a Sao Paulo-based funding agency. “So this is an economic problem that will get worse.”

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Associated Press author Peter Prengaman in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.

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