Truckers protesting rising fuel costs blocked a major highway in Brazil on Sunday, May 27, and displaying a sign that urged the military to “help the nation.” Photo:Andre Penner/Associated Press

The New York Times have published an article in his printed newspaper on Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day) starting saying “Brazil is roaring back, at least according to President Michel Temer”. The communication giant with national circulation said that Temer’s government sought to convey in a series of upbeat statements issued over the past couple of weeks leading up to a foreign investment forum that begins Tuesday in São Paulo.

“Yet a week long standoff between striking truck drivers and the government has provided a stark counter narrative, illustrating the shaky recovery of Brazil’s economy, Latin America’s largest, and the widespread disdain Brazilians have toward their ruling class. Hundreds of trucker roadblocks sealed off highways across the country as a protest against rising fuel prices ground Brazil’s economy to a halt in recent days. Gas stations from São Paulo, the financial capital, to Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, have run out of fuel.

Dozens of flights have been canceled, fresh food supplies in supermarkets have dwindled and millions of chickens and pigs have been culled because of a lack of animal feed. Many schools and universities suspended classes. An announcement by Mr. Temer on Thursday that he had struck a deal with the strike leaders proved premature. Roadblocks were maintained through the weekend and oil workers announced that they intended to go on strike this week, raising the prospect of a deepening crisis that has laid bare the weakness of Mr. Temer’s lame-duck government ahead of a presidential election in October.

Over the weekend, Mr. Temer issued an order authorizing the military to clear roads using force, if necessary, a move that drew condemnation from human rights groups. But after that threat failed to bring the strike to an end, Mr. Temer appeared weary as he announced in a televised statement on Sunday that the government would subsidize the cost of diesel to drop the price at the pump by 12 percent. He also said truck drivers would pay less in tolls and get more government contracts. The measures were striking concessions by a government that has sought to rein in spending as Brazil emerges from a long, crippling recession.”

Fuel costs have soared in Brazil as oil prices have risen globally, and the real, Brazil’s currency, has depreciated. Under the current policy, the price of diesel fuel has fluctuated on an almost daily basis. As part of the latest agreement, diesel price adjustments will occur on a monthly basis. Union leaders have urged drivers to accept the latest deal. But on Monday, May 28, as fuel tankers escorted by police officers and soldiers began to restock some gas stations, many protesters held firm.

The New York Times interview Laura Barbosa de Carvalho, a professor  of economics at the University of São Paulo, who pointed out that taxpayers would ultimately pick up the tab.  The professor said “the government has now met all of the demands in relation to diesel prices, and at a very high cost to public coffers, but the big question is: Is this movement still focused on the price of diesel or does it have a bigger component that wants to destabilize the country?”

Mr. Temer’s speech on Sunday night (May 27) prompted Brazilians frustrated by what they see as a failed government to honk their horns and bang pots from their windows in protest in many cities across the country. It was a sign of the mistrust and outright hostility many Brazilians feel toward the president.  The strike has been the most disruptive period of unrest since Mr. Temer helped lead an effort to impeach his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, in 2016. Since then, Mr. Temer has spent much of his political capital fending off accusations of corruption and obstruction of justice stemming from the wide-ranging graft scandal known as Lava Jato, or Car Wash.

In the article, the NY Times mention  also that a poll published by the Brazil’s media power Globo on Monday showed that 55 percent of Brazilians disapproved of the strike, but a full 95 percent disapproved of the way Mr. Temer has handled it.  Several strikers have voiced support for a military intervention, arguing that the country was safer and more orderly during the dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985. While support for a step that drastic is by no means widespread among strikers, calls for the military to step in have riled up crowds at protest sites over the past week. “It isn’t just about the truckers anymore,it is against the corruption” said Antonio Marcos Rocha to the NY Times. Antonio is a proponent of a military intervention and was wearing a Brazilian flag around his waist and was interviewed while distributed free sandwiches to a crowd outside the refinery.

The article mention opinions of two presidential candidates; the  far-right Jair Bolsonaro, a federal lawmaker that declared “any fines or imprisonment of truckers would be revoked by a future honest president/patriot”; and Marina Silva, a center-left contender and a former environment minister, that declared “once more, the Temer administration uses the military to hide its incompetence. With the increase in fuel prices, society is paying prices that are too high for the mistakes of a government that does everything to save its own skin and keep itself in power.”

The NY Times article ends saying that the Brazil’s economy has pulled out of recession but the recovery has been tenuous. “The value of the currency has slumped to a two-year low, in large part because of uncertainty over Brazil’s political future. Voters have turned their backs on the traditional parties mired in the corruption investigation”. And again mention Ms. Carvalho (economics professor) words:  “The government has tried to sell this idea that it solved the country’s economic problems but this crisis is evidence that it was never true.”

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