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Truckers close off highways in seven states

BR-060, que liga Brasília a Goiânia

BR-060Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

Truck drivers have blocked off highways throughout the country in protest against high fuel prices among other concerns. The blockade has created cargo and freight transport disruptions in seven states. According to the Federal Highway Police (PRF), roads in Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul are partly or completely closed.

Mato Grosso, Santa Catarina, and Paraná are the states with the most blockages.

In Santa Catarina, the truckers closed 11 stretches of highways and brought traffic to a complete block in eight of them. In Paraná, traffic was blocked in both ways in 12 stretches. Only passenger cars, emergency vehicles, buses, and trucks carrying perishable cargo were allowed to go through in all cases.

In Mato Grosso, eight stretches were completely closed, and in the neighboring state of Mato Grosso do Sul, BR-163 was closed both ways at the 256 km marker. In Rio Grande do Sul, truckers occupied two stretches of BR-285. In Goiás, BR-364 was blocked at some of its stretches, and in Minas Gerais, there were three blockages on BR-381.

The Attorney-General’s Office (AGU) has sought a court order to lift the blockages, and says it is supported by the Ministry of Justice via the Highway Police and the National Security Force.

AGU said it filed lawsuits in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, and is seeking court permission to “take the appropriate enforcement steps to ensure traffic is restored on the highways and impose fines of $100,000 for each hour the protesters remain on the highways in refusal to lift the blockades.”

The National Confederation of Independent Transport Workers (CNTA) says the protests are due to the difficulties faced by freight truckers. “Rising inflation, coupled with fuel tax increases, dissuades potential customers from ordering freight services, which basic translates as less money for truckers,” the union said in a statement published Monday (Feb. 23).

CNTA came up with an action plan for workers to demand lower diesel prices, subsidized diesel, and better financing conditions to buy trucks. The union has also asked the government for a meeting to discuss its demands.

Translated by Mayra Borges

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