Brazil's truck drivers on Wednesday maintained their blockades on dozens of highways despite a court injunction ordering them to end the demonstration, which they have mounted in addition to the wave of popular protests undertaken in recent weeks over a wide range of grievances.
The truckers' protest, which began on Monday, continued in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Espiritu Santo, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, highway police said.
Authorities said that the truckers were blocking traffic with their vehicles on about 30 highways around the country.
The mobilization is designed to challenge a ruling by a federal court in Rio de Janeiro, which on Tuesday ordered an end to the blockades and the levying of a fine on the MUBC union of 100,000 reais ($45,000) for every hour that traffic remains blocked.
The decision also includes a freeze on the assets of MUBC president Nelio Botelho.
Similar injunctions were issued by courts in Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais.
Upon calling the demonstration, the MUBC urged its affiliates to join a 72-hour strike to "provide immediate support to the popular demonstrations ... (and) demand that the government improve the country's cargo transport situation."
The MUBC is demanding subsidies for diesel fuel, the elimination of tolls for truckers and tighter oversight of the drivers who work without the proper licenses.
Also, the union is demanding that the government comply with past promises for investment in the national highway grid.
Transport Minister Cesar Borges said Tuesday that it is "impossible" to meet the truckers' demands and that "the government will take all measures within its power to guarantee that all cargo arrives at its destination and the economy flows" properly.
Brazil's ongoing nationwide wave of protests was spurred by an increase in public transit fares in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but the list of grievances quickly expanded to inadequate education and healthcare, political malfeasance and the huge sums Brazil is spending to host events such as the just-ended Confederations Cup soccer tournament and the 2014 World Cup. EFE