Brazil truckers partially block routes, grains still shipping

By Ana Mano and Nayara Figueiredo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian truckers have staged demonstrations and partially blocked key routes in several states, according to a federal highway police bulletin seen by Reuters on Wednesday, though grains exporters said shipments have not been affected.

Truckers were still partially blocking highways at 5:30 p.m. local time in eight states, according to a separate statement from the Infrastructure Ministry based on federal highway police reports.

Authorities said they are working to disperse protesters and free up all highways by midnight, the ministry added.

In late morning, federal Brazil's highway police (PRF) reported 53 blockades on federal roads tied to "social and political events, not involving key issues for independent truckers."

President Jair Bolsonaro drew tens of thousands of supporters to major cities on Tuesday, including some truckers, using a national holiday to step up his attacks on Brazil's Supreme Court and voting system, according to the Rio de Janeiro Branch of the federal highway police. Truckers have previously demonstrated this year over high fuel prices.

Wednesday's blockades affected top grain-producing state Mato Grosso, as well as Minas Gerais, where fuel truckers took part in a 24-hour strike beginning on Tuesday.

Blockades were also reported near the port of São Francisco do Sul in Santa Catarina and in Paraná, near Brazil's second-busiest grain port, regional PRF branches said on Twitter.

Brazilian grains exporters association ANEC, which represents global merchants such as Cargill and Bunge, said the blockades were not currently affecting grain shipments to ports.

In a statement to Reuters, ANEC called the truckers' demonstrations "a concern," and said it is counting on authorities to find a quick solution.

Abrafrigo, which represents meat companies such as Marfrig, said so far the partial blockades had not disrupted the shipping of its products.

At Paranaguá, Brazil's second-busiest port after Santos, nothing unusual has been reported related to the ongoing trucker protests, according to a press representative for the port.

The Brazilian Institute of Petroleum and Gas (IBP) told Reuters it was monitoring the blockades, but has not reported any impacts on fuel supply.

(Reporting by Ana Mano and Nayara Figueiredo in São Paulo; Additional reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis)

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