Truckers block Pará highway in diesel price protest

Truckers block Pará highway
Photo: Vinicius Bacarin/Shutterstock

Just days after truck drivers in the southeastern Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais downed tools in protest against rising fuel prices, their colleagues in the country’s North did the same on Tuesday morning. With a list of demands that included a change in Brazil’s pricing policy, approximately 200 truckers partially blocked the BR-316 highway outside Belém, capital of the state of Pará.

With fuel prices rising out of control, dissatisfaction among Brazilian truck drivers has become palpable, with calls for a nationwide stoppage on November 1.

The vast majority of Brazil’s cargo transportation is carried out by road, giving truck drivers an immense amount of leverage in negotiations over fuel pricing policies and other issues affecting the profession. In 2018, truckers around the country staged an 11-day strike, bringing Brazil to a near-standstill and causing food shortages in several urban centers.

President Jair Bolsonaro is keenly aware of the risks of a truck driver stoppage, which if carried out on a large scale could cause pandemonium in a country already reeling from sky-high inflation. The government sought to cajole truckers by offering a BRL 400 (71.90) monthly benefit for each professional in the sector, but union leaders dismissed the proposal as “merely a palliative measure.”