Brazil Is Going Full Mad Max As Truckers Protest High Diesel Prices

Illustration for article titled Brazil Is Going Full Mad Max As Truckers Protest High Diesel Prices
Photo: Eraldo Peres (AP)

Gas stations are empty. People are stealing gas from one another. Flights are grounded. Surgeries are cancelled. Supermarket shelves are barren. All because truck drivers have gone on strike.

Diesel prices have been rocketing sky high in Brazil lately, and truckers aren’t happy. According to Brasil de Fato, the current increase is a direct result of a pricing policy. Petrobras, Brazil’s state oil company, doesn’t regulate prices to control inflation anymore. It hasn’t been a great move for the company itself, but it’s also pretty awful for anyone who depends on using gas to, y’know, go places.

Truckers understandably got fed up, since those massive increases are cutting into their wages. So on Monday, May 21, they just stopped driving. They parked their vehicles right there on the roads and left. A deal was announced between the government and transportation unions on Thursday, where the unions agreed to suspend the strike for fifteen days so everyone could figure out a decent solution to a problem that’s kind of messing up the whole country.


But the strike continued on until Friday, and now the very unpopular President Michel Temer announced that the army is getting involved. He didn’t actually give any specifics, instead just saying armed forces are getting involved, but that’s still a pretty ominous threat.

Truckers have felt ignored since last year, when their complaints about gas prices then were going ignored. The strike seemed like the only way to actually be heard.

The only downside is that now hospitals are running out of supplies. Grocery stores are emptying out pretty quick. And now the army is coming to escort the parked trucks from the roads so that, y’know, you don’t have to keep trying to siphon gas off of your neighbors.

It looks like the situation is slowly getting resolved, but here’s hoping they can get trucks back on the road before they start going full Mad Max and hang a guitar player from a giant automotive mess.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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Brazilian here. Some corrections are in order:

1) Despite 600 road blocks over the country, fuel for police and ambulances and trucks with medications are allowed to pass. Meds were ALWAYS in shortage;

2) President Temer decreed a GLO (Garantia de Lei e Ordem, or Law and Order Guarantee) which gives the army permission to seize control of trucks in order to transport goods. The GLO also gives power to confiscate fuel;

3) The truckers who stopped are self employed, and the union who closed the agreement isn’t recognized by the truckers. The ABCAM, Brazilian Trucker Association, the real union, wasn’t heard;

4) The best part: The vast majority of population is WITH the truckers, not against them. Taxes are ridiculous here, diesel costs almost R$4 per liter, and more than half of it are taxes. Truckers keep just R$1.5k for R$10k freights, which can take more than half a month to complete. With increasing diesel prices, their profit margins are plummeting.