South America Calling

Brazilian Truckers Continue Strike on Tuesday

Brazilian truckers blockaded highways for a second day Tuesday in an initiative that is proving more political than anything else.

Highways were blocked at 21 points as part of protests in nine states as of noon local time Tuesday, said federal highway police, with the main focus in the agricultural states of the south.

The stoppage is a repeat of actions in February, March and April, which slowed the delivery of grains and meats to port.

The blockades are a lot less numerous and effective than during the February/March protests. Deliveries of corn to port have yet to slow significantly but Brazil's pork and poultry exporters are concerned. That's because they are on a tight schedule, explained Francisco Turra, president of the Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA). With winter coming, a number of customers in Russia and Eastern Europe are demanding that consignments be shipped before Nov. 20 before ice closes ports.

The current protest, coordinated by the independent National Transport Command, is not supported by the main truckers' unions.

The strike leaders have a long list of demands, including lower diesel prices, minimum freight rates, fixed salary scales and subsidized credit. But the federal government says they have not been presented with demands and say the movement is motivated more by politics than economics.

Certainly, there is an overtly political element to the strike with demands that President Dilma Rousseff be ousted appearing in nearly all press photos of roadblocks. Indeed, on Monday, strike leaders said they weren't interested in negotiating and wanted a change of government, although they subsequently softened and will hold talks with government representatives in Brasilia on Tuesday evening.



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