The gouvernementbrésilien has raised the tone on Friday in the face of the strike of the road that is gripping the country since the beginning of the week, by mobilizing the army to remove hundreds of dams in the country.
The president Michel Temer announced in the early afternoon in a televised speech at the solemn tone of “having mobilized the security forces” to clear roads in the country.
The defence minister, Joaquim Silva e Luna, went further by claiming two hours later that the army would be a rapid, coordinated and energetic (…) to free the circulation in critical areas” such as refineries and airports.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the main unions of the country have stated that “the government’s decision to mobilize the army as an instrument of repression” was to “attempt to extinguish the fire with gasoline”.
Shortly before, the mayor of Sao Paulo, the economic capital of the country, has declared a state of emergency, an extreme measure, allowing, in particular, to requisition fuel.
Cancelled flights, service stations dry, supermarkets running out of fresh products: the situation was absolutely critical at the fifth day of the strike to protest against the rising price of diesel.
“We’re not going to lead to that the population does not have access to basic necessities (…), that hospitals do not have the drugs needed to save lives,” explained the president Temer.
– “Minority radical” –
However, the government had displayed a certain optimism on Thursday evening, a party of union leaders being committed to ‘suspend the strike for 15 days, until a new meeting with the government” in exchange of the elimination of a tax on the diesel.
“We have accepted the 12 claims the priority of the road, who are committed to put an end to the dams immediately. But, unfortunately, a minority radical continued to block roads”, stressed the head of State, in reference to the seven hours of negotiations the day before.
“The government has had the courage of dialogue, the government will have the courage to exercise his authority”, he assured.
For the brazilian Association of truck Drivers (Abcam), a trade union representing the 700,000 truck drivers, “the idea is to maintain the strike, road blockades”.
“The Abcam does not agree (with the truce), because (the government) has not kept his original promise to cancel the taxes before the end of the week,” said a spokesperson of the union to the AFP.
The problems of major supply caused by the strike have affected the economy as a whole, in this huge country that has virtually no rail network and where 60% of the goods transport is done by road.
At the airport in the capital Brasilia, more than 30 flights were cancelled, including two international, the reserves of kerosene being depleted.
According to the company manager Infraero, ten other airports in the country are also dry, including that of Recife (north-east).
– Assembly lines-stop
The exports of the country are being strongly affected, and the automotive industry, which employs 132.000 people, is already fully stop.
In many large brazilian cities, the drivers have faced for the last several days of huge queues waiting to refuel. But on Friday, many gas stations were deserted, because without essence.
This chaotic situation carries a severe blow to the credibility of the government of president Michel Temer, at least five months of the presidential election in October.
“It shows the public opinion and the market, in Brazil and abroad, that the government Temer is a government dwarf, without any power,” said AFP political analyst Andre Cesar, of the consultancy firm Hold.
“It has been undervalued by this government. They said that Brazil would grind to a halt if the trucks stopped. It has been proved that if” said to the AFP Luiz Carlos, bus driver, 47-year-old, who has parked his truck in front of a refinery of Duque de Caxias, near Rio.
According to the national Confederation of transport, Brazil has a fleet of over 2.5 million trucks, of which 477.000 are truck drivers independent.
If the movement lasts, the economic consequences may be catastrophic for a country that is struggling to get back on their feet after the historic recession of 2015-16.
The price of diesel have increased strongly recently due to the increase in the price of oil and a new fare policy of Petrobras, which has aligned itself since the end of 2016 on the international courses.