RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilians are attempting to return to normal on the sixth day of a truck drivers’ strike, after the government mobilized the army and police to clear roads blocked by some of the truckers, who are protesting against high fuel prices.
Some 132 blockages had already been cleared by Saturday morning, 12 hours after President Michel Temer ordered the armed forces to clear the roads, although at least 387 blockages were still impeding traffic, according to official figures.
The executive order signed Friday by Temer authorizes the army and the highway police to use force, if necessary, to clear the roads to allow cities to be resupplied with essential goods.
This means that the army and the highway police are allowed to seize and remove vehicles blocking roads if the truckers refuse to drive off.
The government announced on Thursday that the striking truckers had agreed to a 15-day truce, although protests and blockages continued throughout the country on Friday and Saturday despite the agreement, as nearly 40 percent of truck drivers rejected the government’s proposals
The agreement states that Petrobras, the semi-public oil company, would reduce diesel prices by 10 percent in a period of 30 days and that the government would gradually eliminate throughout the year a tax on diesel, which represents nearly 50 percent of the cost that consumers must pay.
The truck drivers’ strike has led to shortages of basic goods throughout the country, including gasoline and some foodstuffs.
At least 12 airports, including the one serving the capital, Brasilia, announced that they had run out of jet fuel, while long lines have formed at gas stations as many have run out of gasoline.
Some 112 flights had to be cancelled throughout the country on Friday, while on Saturday 40 flights were cancelled just in Brasilia.
Some hospitals have also announced that they are starting to run out of crucial medicines and materials.
The prices of fuels and foodstuffs have shot up, while cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have already declared a state of emergency.