September 9, 2021
By Lisandra Paraguassu and Ana Mano
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet by videoconference on Thursday with truckers leading blockades of highways in some 15 states, the Infrastructure Ministry said on social media, raising hopes he could end protests threatening export routes.
Stirred up by the president’s call to action at Tuesday political rallies, the trucker protests had partially blocked highways in a half dozen states early on Wednesday, but gained steam as Bolsonaro was hesitant to publicly denounce them.
A spike in fuel prices has put truckers on edge, raising fears of a major strike like the one that hammered Brazil’s economy in 2018, crippling the government and vaulting Bolsonaro to prominence due to his early support for the movement.
On Wednesday night, an audio message from the president circulated in truckers’ messaging groups, aiming to rein in their protests without publicly demoralizing his supporters.
“Speaking to the truckers out there, who are our allies, these blockades hurt our economy,” Bolsonaro said in the message reviewed by Reuters. “They cause supply shortages, inflation and hurt everyone, especially the poorest.”
Major grains traders said on Wednesday the protests had not affected the flow of crops to port, but export group ANEC did not immediately respond to questions on Thursday.
Meatpacker associations Abrafrigo and ABPA said on Thursday the blockades had not affected movement of live or perishable cargo around the country.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, Ana Mano and Carolina Mandl in Sao PauloEditing by Brad Haynes and Bernadette Baum)
Source Link Bolsonaro to meet striking Brazil truckers, exporters on edge