Prosecutor General cozies up to the government in truckers’ dispute

. Mar 11, 2020
truckers strike brazil prosecutor general Photo: Sergei Golub/Shutterstock

Back in 2018, as a bid to put an end to the truck drivers’ strike that brought Brazil to a near standstill, the government proposed a series of measures to appease truckers. One was a reference price table for cargo transportation, establishing minimum rates for driving shipments around the country. As The Brazilian Report has already shown, the measure is becoming something of a Trojan horse—entrepreneurs do not like the price table as it has made products more expensive, while truck drivers are incensed that they are unable to charge the rates required by the law.

A study by the National Transport Confederation showed that truck drivers do not believe the objectives of the 2018 strike have been achieved, and that the minimum price table doesn’t go far enough to cover the main costs of cargo transportation, such as fuel and vehicle maintenance. To avoid another strike, the federal government has now decided to bump the rates on its reference tables.



But

authorities are reluctant to have their fingerprints on the final decision. When former President Michel Temer announced the measure, he did so via a provisional decree, meaning it had to be approved by Congress, thus throwing responsibility for the measure to the lawmakers.</p> <p>Now, the fate of the price policy is in the hands of the Supreme Court. Brazil&#8217;s highest court was <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/01/02/expect-brazil-supreme-court-2020/">set to decide on the constitutionality of the measure in February</a>, but the trial was postponed after the government requested time to make a last-ditch attempt at an agreement between companies and truck drivers.</p> <p>The first meeting took place this Tuesday and was mediated by Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux, who said that there was already the possibility of an agreement. The result of almost three hours of talks was an idea to replace the price table with an average rate, calculated by way of currently undisclosed parameters.</p> <div id="buzzsprout-player-1078994"></div> <script src="https://www.buzzsprout.com/299876/1078994-43-brazil-s-infrastructure-woes.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-1078994&amp;player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>Truckers asked for a second round of talks next month, in order for them to have time to discuss proposals with other truckers&#8217; unions.</p> <p>The National Confederation of Industry—representing the interests of transportation companies—asked the Supreme Court to keep the date of their trial in the hope they will rule the cargo price table unconstitutional altogether.</p> <p>The Federal Prosecution Service recently joined the group which considers the minimum price tables to be against the law. When former Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge was still in office, the agency was in favor of the measure, but new head <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/09/06/augusto-aras-brazil-new-prosecutor-general/">Augusto Aras</a> sees establishing minimum prices for cargo transportation as a violation of the free market.</p> <h2>New chief, new rules</h2> <p><a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/08/08/fight-brazil-prosecutor-general-job/">Mr. Aras replaced Raquel Dodge</a> in 2019, taking over from Brazil&#8217;s first female Prosecutor General. Ms. Dodge had hoped to remain in office but a turbulent end to her term saw Jair Bolsonaro look elsewhere, turning to Augusto Aras as someone who presented himself as more aligned with his ideological platform.&nbsp;</p> <p>Months before his appointment, Mr. Aras ingratiated himself to the president by making a number of hard-line conservative declarations, arguing that landowners who kill trespassers shouldn&#8217;t be prosecuted, and saying that the Federal Prosecution Service shouldn&#8217;t get in the way of economic development.</p> <p>This liberal economic thought in the agency is not restricted to the minimum prices for truckers, with it also showing up during a trial on the extension of railway contracts. This case is emblematic as it was filed during Raquel Dodge&#8217;s term, who was against the measure, yet Augusto Aras happily altered the stance of the prosecution service.

 
Brenno Grillo

Correspondent in Brasília. Journalist since 2012, is especialized in cover Law and Justice. Worked in comunication agencies untill be choosen to be an intern in O Estado de S.Paulo. Also worked in Portal Brasil and political campaigns. His last job was in ConJur, website especialized in Justice news.

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