SAO PAULO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian truckers staged
demonstrations throughout Brazil on Wednesday, partially
blocking key routes in several states and prompting President
Jair Bolsonaro to ask the protestors to stand down.
Truckers sympathetic to the president had partially
blockaded highways in 16 states as of the late evening, briefly
shutting down traffic in two locations, according to a statement
from the Infrastructure Ministry.
In the late morning, federal Brazil's highway police (PRF)
had reported 53 blockades on federal roads tied to "social and
political events, not involving key issues for independent
Bolsonaro drew tens of thousands of supporters to major
cities on Tuesday, including some truckers, using a national
holiday to step up his attacks on Brazil's Supreme Court and
voting system. Truckers have previously demonstrated this year
over high fuel prices.
"Speaking to the truckers out there, who are our allies,
these blockades hurt our economy," Bolsonaro said in an audio
WhatsApp message sent to truckers' groups and obtained by
Reuters on Wednesday night. "They cause supply shortages,
inflation and hurt everyone, especially the poorest."
In a separate video WhatsApp message circulating among
truckers' groups and obtained by Reuters, Infrastructure
Minister Tarcisio Freitas confirmed the authenticity of
Wednesday's blockades affected top grain-producing state
Mato Grosso, as well as Minas Gerais, where fuel truckers took
part in a 24-hour strike beginning on Tuesday.
Blockades were also reported near the port of São Francisco
do Sul in Santa Catarina and in Paraná, near Brazil's
second-busiest grain port, regional PRF branches said on
Brazil's grain exporters association ANEC, which represents
global merchants such as Cargill and Bunge, said the blockades
were not currently affecting grain shipments to ports.
In a statement, ANEC called the truckers' demonstrations "a
concern," and said it is counting on authorities to find a quick
The Brazilian Institute of Petroleum and Gas told Reuters it
was monitoring the blockades, but has not reported any impact on
A massive truckers' strike in 2018 ground Brazil's economy
to a halt and destroyed the remaining political capital of
then-President Michel Temer.
The dynamics of the current demonstrations are quite
different, with demonstrators protesting in favor of the
government rather than against it, but Brasilia and financial
markets follow all movements among Brazil's truckers closely,
given the massive impact blockades can have on the nation's
(Reporting by Ana Mano and Nayara Figueiredo in São Paulo, Gram
Slattery in Rio de Janeiro and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia
Additional reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro
Editing by Leslie Adler, Aurora Ellis and Kim Coghill)