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Brazil beefs up police to quell trucker protest

02 March 2015, 20:23

Brasilia - The Brazilian government dispatched extra police on Sunday to quell a strike by truckers opposing rising fuel and freight costs, after demonstrations turned violent.

Nearing its second week, the strike has hit 11 of Brazil's 26 states. The southern regions of Rio Grande do Sul, Parana and Santa Catarina have been hit especially hard.

One driver was killed when he was run over during a Saturday demonstration in Rio Grande do Sul as a lorry driver opposed to the action tried to break through a blockade.

"The federal government regrets the use of violence in the demonstrations, with vehicles looted and coercion against drivers who want to work," a statement from the presidential office read.

Also read: US sex abuse suspect detained in Brazil

The extra police are tasked with enforcing a court order passed last week demanding an end to the strike.

On Wednesday, the government indicated it would freeze diesel prices for six months in response to strikers' demands.

But Brasilia said the truckers would face heavy fines if they continued the stoppage that has slowed the delivery of foodstuffs in the continent-sized nation with almost nine million kilometres of highways.

The protest has hit exports of goods including iron ore and soy, major earners for Brazilian export firms, with deliveries to ports severely delayed.

An estimated 80 percent of the protests are now taking place in the south of the country.


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