By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A meeting held on Wednesday afternoon, February 25th, between government officials and truck driver associations may put an end to the week-long protests, which blocked several federal highways throughout Brazil and caused thousands of dollars in losses, according to officials.
According to the government among the items agreed upon by officials and truckers’ associations are the sanctioning of the Truckers Law with no vetoes by the President and an easing of financing credit for truck purchases. A position on one of the truckers’ main demands, however, that there be no increase in diesel oil prices for the next six months, was not reached.
Minister of Transport, Antonio Carlos Rodrigues told reporters after the signing of the agreement, however, that these conditions would only be met if truckers put an end to the strikes. “This [agreement] will be met as soon as the highways are unblocked,” Rodrigues was quoted as saying, according to news agency Agencia Brasil.
One of the truckers’ association represented at the meeting, the CNTA (National Confederation of Autonomous Transporters) called for an end of the highway obstruction. “Due to the gravity of the situation in the country at the moment we ask that truckers be sensible and clear out the highways,” CNTA president, Diumar Bueno was quoted by Agencia Brasil.
According to Brazil’s Federal Highway Police, truckers have blocked highways in at least eleven states, including Minas Gerais, Goias, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Parana and Santa Catarina. These states are the leading grain, dairy and vegetable producing states in the country. Fuel delivery has also been hindered due to highway obstructions, with producers unable to transport their products to nearby food centers and ports.
In Parana state there have been reports of dairy producers having to throw out thousands of liters of milk after being unable to safely store and/or transport their products. At the Paranagua port, officials say that on Tuesday only ten percent of their scheduled export cargo had arrived to be loaded onto ships.
In Mato Grosso state, the transport of this year’s record soybean harvest has been put on hold until the situation is resolved.