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Truckers’ Strike Paralyzes Brazil as President Courts Investors

Union leaders have urged drivers to accept the latest deal. But on Monday, as fuel tankers escorted by police officers and soldiers began to restock some gas stations, many protesters held firm.

“The government has now met all of the demands in relation to diesel prices, and at a very high cost to public coffers,” said 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. “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 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.

Truckers’ Strike Paralyzes Brazil as President Courts Investors
Truckers’ Strike Paralyzes Brazil as President Courts Investors

A poll published by the Globo website 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.

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.

On Monday morning, roughly one hundred protesters gathered at an oil refinery on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, which has been one of the focal points of the strike. Truckers were a minority at the demonstration. But scores of unemployed oil workers, motorcycle couriers and public transportation workers said they wanted their grievances addressed as well.

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