SAO PAULO, July 3 A national protest by
Brazilian truck drivers appeared to be winding down on Wednesday
and the union leading it said it was scheduled to end at 6 a.m.
(10 a.m. GMT) on Thursday, after several state governments
secured injunctions to stop drivers from blocking public
Local media showed trucks that had been abandoned in Mato
Grosso, Brazil's leading soy producing state, while drivers
demonstrated on the Anchieta highway that links Sao Paulo to
Brazil's main Santos port. Private highway operator Ecovias
said protesters had caused a 4 kilometer (2.9 mile) traffic jam.
President Dilma Rousseff, whose popularity plunged in recent
weeks during Brazil's largest nationwide demonstrations in 20
years, rebuked the truckers and pledged in a televised address
to the nation to keep roads in running.
The 72-hour truck strike, organized by Rio de Janeiro-based
truckers union MUBC, was unrelated to demonstrations in which
Brazilians have voiced grievances over public services and
transportation, corruption and healthcare.
Among MUBC's demands is a subsidy for diesel fuel and
exemptions on highway toll payments for drivers. The national
union's spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests to
confirm that the protests would end on Thursday.
Dockworkers staged a separate protest on Wednesday at the
entrance of Santos port, provoking six kilometers of congestion,
but they did not block the entrance, a port spokesman said.
Calls for a general strike have so far gone unheeded,
although dock workers at Brazil's main port of Santos have
called for a walkout on July 10 and 11.
Analysts have said the three days of roadblocks are unlikely
to affect exports of Brazil's record soy, corn and sugar crops
as exporting companies keep enough supplies in private storage
facilities near the ports to keep loading ships.
Some two-thirds of grains shipments in Brazil arrive to the
port via truck.
The union staged a week-long strike a year ago, disrupting
the flow of goods in Brazil's heavily populated southeast region
and raising concerns over food inflation.