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Brazilian Truckers Reach Fragile Truce with Government

By: PanAm Post Staff - Feb 26, 2015, 5:06 pm

EspañolCrisis talks between the Brazilian government and representatives of a key truck drivers union reached a fragile agreement on Tuesday, bringing a temporary reprieve to nine days of protest roadblocks that have paralyzed highways across the country.

Government representatives and union members gathered at the Ministry of Transport and reached an agreement, but internal divisions among truck drivers do not guarantee the end of road blockages.
Internal divisions of truck drivers are frustrating a bid to end road blockages. (Antonio Cruz / Agência Brasil)

Teamsters’ demands include a freeze on diesel prices, the approval of a law to increase regulation of the sector, the continued delivery of state funding to subsidize the purchase of vehicles, and reductions in toll prices.

The country’s Ministry of Transport put forward its resolution proposal on Tuesday. State oil company Petrobras will keep gas prices static for the next six months, the government will enact the currently stalled Law of Truck Drivers as is, and payments as part of the Procaminhoneiro subsidy program of truck purchases will be extended.

In addition, the government will mediate between employers and the union to forge a mutually agreeable table of reference on the payments for different freights and journeys.

The announcement of the agreement, however, does not guarantee an end to the blockades that have impeded traffic on 100 sections of highways in 10 Brazilian states. Ivan Schmidt, chief spokesman for one drivers’ lobby, the National Transportation Command, said his group had not reached any agreements and still rejected the proposals on the table.

“We have zero profits, and the government proposes that we continue without profits for another six months. I think they’re not right in the head. They must have a problem,” Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, Diumar Bueno, president of the National Confederation of Autonomous Transporters, called for an end to the strike: “Given the seriousness of the country’s current situation, we appeal to truck drivers to release control of the roads, given the gains we have achieved.” Bueno, however, admitted that he couldn’t guarantee the end of the barriers.

On Wednesday morning, some roads were cleared and traffic returned to normal. Nonetheless, TV Globo reported that 27 federal highways were still impassable in four Brazilian states.

The protests have led to shortages of fruits and vegetables in several Brazilian cities, and driven soybean prices to their highest level in six weeks.

Source: O Globo.