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Senior Contributor

Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil

After a meeting with some unions, the Brazilian government announced that truckers would be exempted from tolls in the future and that Petrobras would not increase diesel prices in the next six months. Some unions agreed to end the strike with the measures announced, but other truckers promised to continue to be on strike. Trucker Ivar Schmidt said in an interview to Veja magazine: "We are working with zero profit and now the government says we will have six months more like this. [...] I will stand firm and will go to Brasília until the problem gets solved."


In Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, and Santa Catarina, all the major highways continue to be blocked. Federal highway BR-163 is also still blocked in Mato Grosso.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil

February 26, 2015

Trucker Strike in Brazil Becoming Very Serious

Protests by truck drivers in Brazil expanded on Wednesday to 13 Brazilian states with many of Brazil's major highways blocked to traffic. As soon as the local police manage to open one stretch of highway, protestors block another stretch. President Rousseff and federal officials are scrambling to resolve the situation, but a lack of organized leadership among the protestors makes it difficult to know who is in charge or who to negotiate with.

The lists of grievances of the truckers continues to grow and they now include: increased fuel prices, reduced freight rates, high taxes, high tolls, lack of margins, the new "truck driver law" that reduced driving time, poor road conditions, lack of security on the highways, slow progress on improving highways, lack of rest areas for truckers to pull over to adhere to the "truck driver law", etc.

The federal government is scrambling to try come up with a resolution but a lack of cohesive leadership among protestors makes negotiations very difficult - they don't know who to negotiate with.

President Rousseff and the Minister of Transportation have both stated that reducing diesel fuel prices is not an option and setting minimum freight rates is not possible. These are the two principal grievances of the protestors, so it is hard to see where they will have the common ground needed for a resolution.

These protests have really caught everyone off guard and they have been surprisingly widespread and effective in bringing attention to their cause. These demonstrations are very different than the "occupy movement" that occurred in Brazil prior to the World Cup. Members of the "occupy movement" were upset at general government spending on sport stadiums instead of education, housing, health needs, sanitation, etc. Those demonstrations did not have a focus other than general dissatisfaction with the government and political leaders.

The current protests are focused on specific items such as fuel prices and freight rates and I think that is why these protests seem to have more "legs" than past movements.

How long this lasts remains to be seen, but it is becoming very serious and it has already lasted longer than most people expected. Every segment of Brazilian society is being impacted one way or another by these protests and below I have listed some of the highlights.

  • The arrival of grain and soybean meal at the Ports of Santos and Paranagua have been greatly reduced. Paranagua usually receives 900 grain trucks per day, but on Tuesday there were just 45 trucks and on Wednesday there were 75. The entrance to the Port of Santos was blocked Tuesday afternoon, but police managed to reopen the entrance after using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up protests. The Port of Santos usually receives 10,000 trucks per day and protestors vowed to close the port again for a period of three days.
  • Grain exports from Brazil have not been impacted as yet, but without grain arriving at the ports, loading activity will eventually slow down.
  • A Fiat assembly plant in Minas Gerais closed down for lack of parts and 6,000 workers were sent home.
  • The giant JBS meat processor closed eight processing facilities for poultry, swine, and beef due to lack of animals.
  • Farmers are dumping milk due to a lack of milk haulers.
  • Dairy processors are shutting down due to a lack of milk.
  • Soybean crushers are closing down due to a lack of soybeans.
  • Feed mills are closing down due to lack of corn and soybean meal shipments.
  • Hog and poultry operations are out of feed and no way to obtain more.
  • Many gas stations are out of fuel and there are long lines to get remaining fuel. Prices have skyrocketed for reaming inventory.
  • Some farmers in northern Mato Grosso have stopped harvesting soybeans due to lack of diesel fuel to run the combines and other farmers will run out this week.
  • Mato Grosso soybean harvest is 35% complete compared to 47% last year and the harvest pace will slow even more.
  • Some farmers in Mato Grosso do not have fertilizers to plant their safrinha corn crop.
  • Some truckers that tried to "run the blockade" have had their loads of soybeans dumped on the highway.
  • America Latina Logistica is loading fewer trains with soybeans at the Rondonopolis Intermodal grain complex due to lack of supplies. This railroad supplies soybeans and corn to the Port of Santos.
  • In more rural areas, all elective surgeries have been postponed due to a lack of medicines.
  • While some highways are opened by local police, protestors move on and close other sections of the highways.
  • Local judges have imposed fines of R$ 5,000, R$ 10,000 even R$ 100,000 per day, but protestors ignoring their rulings
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Veteran Advisor

Re: Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil



The Brazilian government and the truckers remain at odds. As of Thursday, the truckers remain unsatisfied that the government will not agree to lower the diesel tax, according to sources in Brazil. Also, 20% of the Mato Grosso producers dont have anymore fuel to go on with the harvest.




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Senior Contributor

Re: Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil

Media outlets with national coverage are attempting to sort of ignore. Here I bring some data extracting from different local media outlets. In Rio Grande do Sul, there are 67 highways stretches blocked. In Paraná, there are 50. In Santa Catarina, 15 roads not allowing trucks to go on. In Mato Grosso, the two federal highways that transport grain are still blocked.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil

Reading stories like this make me extremely proud to farm and live right here in the good ole USA.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Some roads are unblocked, but strike continues in Brazil

UPDATE 2-Truckers carry on Brazil strike despite gov't offers, threats

(Adds new government threats of fines, reaction from truckers)

By Marcelo Teixeira and Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian truckers continued a nine-day-old strike on Thursday, unmoved by an initial government offer to meet some of their demands or by threats of hefty fines.

The strike, which spread from a few road blocks on Feb. 18 in the main soybean state of Mato Grosso to 91 blockades across nine states on Thursday, has caused lines at filling stations and spoiled milk, fruit and vegetables unable to reach supermarkets.

After negotiations with some trucker groups fizzled out on Wednesday, the government offered a year of free financing for trucks and to help truckers and transport companies create a framework for setting freight rates.

Truckers largely ignored the offer and held their ground, even after Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo threatened on Thursday to impose fines of 5,000 to 10,000 reais ($1,700-$3,400) per hour on truckers who illegally blocked roads.

"We've got mountains of debt - a little more doesn't change anything much," Ivar Luiz Schmidt, who is one of the leaders organizing the strike, said in response.

Truckers' primary demand is for a reduction in diesel prices, which are roughly 50 percent above international levels but the government is unwilling to lower those prices.

The sector is struggling with a surge in the number of trucks on the road in recent years and falling prices for bulk commodities such as sugar, corn and soybeans, which have lowered payments to truckers.

Local logistic companies, such as NTC&Logistica, say several firms will likely close in the near future in order to restore balance to the troubled sector.

Although the flow of trucks was normal in Brazil's richest state of Sao Paulo, including at the country's main port of Santos, other important export hubs further south were affected.

Paranagua, the second-largest grains exporting port, said it had soybeans in silos to continue loading ships until March 2.

Another port, Rio Grande, said operations were lightly affected but feared problems would grow over the weekend.

The Independent Transporters Association (CNTA), one of the entities representing truckers, said it would recommend truckers allow delivery of food and fuel leading up to the next round of talks with the government on March 10.

Members of the National Transport Command, which is led by Schmidt and was excluded from negotiations on Wednesday, were not willing to call off the strike and prepared to face "the ultimate consequences."

"We weren't in the negotiations because we don't represent any union or federation. We abhor those guys. They don't represent the sector," said Schmidt.

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