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Brazil Trucker Strike Eases As Oil Union Threatens Walkout

Updated on
  • Losses of more than $2.6 billion in five days of strike: Valor
  • Petrobras workers plan strike for May 30, want CEO fired
Truck drivers block the Regis Bittencourt road on May 26. Photographer: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil’s embattled president may find little reprieve as striking truckers loosen their grip on the nation’s roadways in their seventh day of fuel-price protests: an oil workers union plans its own walkout later this week.

Michel Temer

Photographer: Andre Coelho/Bloomberg

President Michel Temer spent most of Sunday meeting with ministers in the nation’s capital discussing how to end the strike, which newspaper Valor Economico estimates cost Latin America’s largest economy more than 9.5 billion reais ($2.6 billion) during its first five days.

Temer announced late on Sunday a series of measures meant to quell the dispute including 60 days of lower fuel prices.

Most roadblocks have at least partially opened, with several trucks moving to the shoulder to let passenger cars pass freely. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, on Saturday night negotiated a deal with truckers’ representatives to remove blockades from the state’s roads until May 29. Early Sunday, the governor also guaranteed provisions for essential services would be in place by the following day.

Police escorts helped tanker trucks reach key fuel depots and gas stations after some people chose to sleep in their cars, sometimes waiting more than 12 hours in line for fuel. While delivery of essential medical supplies is improving, supermarkets still face shortages of perishables such as fruit, vegetables and eggs. The meat producers association ABPA said poultry growers have lost 64 million chickens. Brazil is the world’s largest poultry exporter.

An additional one billion chickens and 20 million pigs continue to be at risk as animals are not being sufficiently fed, the group said in an email statement. An ABPA leader reportedly met with the Temer administration late Sunday, the president’s office said by text message.

Even if Temer has successfully delivered concessions capable of appeasing truckers, he may have little time to celebrate. Late Saturday night, a Petrobras oil workers union said it would launch a 72-hour strike starting on May 30, making demands that include lower fuel prices and the removal of Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente.

Petrobras didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. On Friday, the company’s press office said Parente has no intention of resigning amid a flurry of criticism regarding his approach to managing fuel price policy at the state-run oil company.

— With assistance by Gerson Freitas Jr

(Updated Temer’s measure in third and context in fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs.)
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