RIO DE JANEIRO – A truck drivers' strike in Brazil left a patchwork of empty gas stations and barren supermarket shelves on Saturday, as the drivers remained unmoved by the government's threats to use force (19659006) police forces carried out operations to clean up closed roads and military vehicles provided escorts for trucks transporting emergency fuel to police stations and army installations in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo
About half of the roadblocks The country had been cleared by the afternoon when the truckers who came across the police who agreed to move, said Jose Helio, a spokesman for the Rio Police.
Many truck drivers, however, refused to return to work. Some stayed in their 18-wheel vehicles along the highways, while others laid their vehicles in service areas.
"There is no food, no gas," said Joao Roberto, an Uber driver in Rio de Janeiro, parked at an empty gas station.
Roberto said he had filled four days ago, but his tank was almost empty.
On Friday, President Michel Temer authorized the military to use force if necessary. The fight against the truckers, however, could lead to violence and would not solve the bigger problems of taking vehicles off the road and getting the drivers back to work.
The Brazilian trucking association, one of the largest transport unions, called on its members to have their trucks taken off the streets on Friday but "continue to protest peacefully". The union and some others did not return calls on Saturday seeking a comment.
Perishable fruits and vegetables almost disappeared from the shelves of the supermarkets. In several Hortifreti chain stories in Rio de Janeiro, employees filled vegetable crisps and shelves with soda cans and rice bags on Saturday.
A popular weekly market on Saturday, which was usually swarming with fruit and vegetables in several blocks, had only a fraction of the goods. Many sellers on the market demanded double, they would have to pay more to buy what they could.
"This strike kills us," said Manuel Reis, a watermelon vendor who sold only about 400 pounds of fruit on Saturday, about half of his usual.
Many gas stations across the country have run out of diesel and gas, and local managers say they do not know when to expect more supplies.
Bus and subway services in several Brazilian cities were reduced and several flights, mostly domestic, were canceled for a third straight day on Saturday. Particularly affected are inland cities further away from the refineries along the Brazilian coast.
The strike followed complaints from truck drivers about rising diesel costs, which have risen sharply in recent months as world oil prices rise and the Brazilian real weakens against the US dollar.
On Thursday, the government and several transportation unions said an agreement had been reached to suspend decommissioning for 15 days to negotiate a solution. But many truckers got angry and said they did not feel represented and did not trust the government to keep promises.
The work stoppage comes when Latin America's largest economy ignores a deep recession and many Brazilians are mad at politicians The result of a mega-scandal with bribes between construction companies and elected representatives.
Economists say that there is no easy way to solve the deadlock, as rising oil prices leave little room for government. A significant price cut would require drastic tax cuts, which are particularly difficult at a time when many countries like Rio de Janeiro have their own budgetary crisis.
"I do not think the oil price will go down and I do not believe the real will benefit from the US dollar," said Andre Perfeito, chief economist at Spinelli CVMC, a Sao Paulo-based investment firm. "So that's an economic problem that's going to get worse."
Associated Press author Peter Prengaman of Rio de Janeiro has contributed to this report.
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