May 22, 2018 / 1:53 PM / 5 months ago

Brazil truckers protest enters second day despite fuel price cut

SAO PAULO, May 22 (Reuters) - Brazilian truck drivers kept up their protests on Tuesday against a steep rise in diesel prices by partially blocking roads across the country, according to a group representing the drivers.

At the port of Santos, Latin America's largest, a truck was blocking traffic near the terminals, said Codesp, the state-run firm that administers the area.

Abcam, the group organizing the demonstrations across the country, said the truckers were protesting in 15 states, including those that are agricultural, industrial and transport hubs.

Federal highway police did not have an immediate comment on the extent of the blockades nor how they were disrupting traffic around the country.

The demonstrations put pressure on the government to provide relief from rising fuel costs, which could mean either backsliding on efforts to close Brazil's fiscal deficit or interfering in the state-run oil company's pricing policy.

State-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, said on Tuesday it would reduce diesel prices 1.54 percent and gasoline prices 2.08 percent starting Wednesday, without elaborating the reasons for that decision.

But fuel prices have surged nearly 50 percent at Brazilian refineries in less than a year, making it unclear whether that cut would be sufficient to halt the protests.

Abcam said it expected more truckers to take part in the blockades on Tuesday than the previous day, when they said some 200,000 drivers took part in 19 states.

Petrobras' decision in July last year to adjust domestic fuel prices to reflect international price swings has helped an operational turnaround, lifting its share price to the highest level in about 3.5 years. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Frances Kerry)

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