On Friday, a protest by Brazilian truckers sympathetic to President Jair Bolsonaro mainly dissipated, providing relief to industries concerned about supply shortages.
According to a statement issued early Friday by Brazil’s infrastructure minister, there were protests along highways in three states – Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Rondonia – but no roadways were closed. This is in contrast to the 16 states that had registered highway demonstrations earlier in the week.
According to the federal highway patrol, the protests “no longer pose risks of partial or whole blockades and are on the verge of total demobilisation.”
Stirred up by Bolsonaro’s call to action against the Supreme Court at political rallies on Tuesday, the truck blockades gained steam on Wednesday. Earlier this week, the right-wing leader had accused the Supreme Court of preventing him from governing and called on Justice Alexandre de Moraes to step down.
On Thursday, he sought to defuse the dispute and said he had told truckers to stand down, warning that if the protests continued past Sunday, it would bring about serious supply shortages.
With scant rail infrastructure in Latin America’s largest country, the economy is heavily dependent on road haulage and the protests threatened key export routes. A major truckers’ strike in 2018 brought activity to a standstill.
Besides supporting Bolsonaro in his battle against the Supreme Court, truckers are discontented about soaring diesel prices.
Bolsonaro gained prominence in the 2018 presidential campaign with his early support for the truckers and he has remained sympathetic to their complaints of high fuel prices.