Brazil's Temer says no threat of a coup amid truckers' protest

By Simon Webb SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Tuesday there was no chance that a nationwide truckers' protest that has paralyzed Latin America's biggest economy will spark a military coup and topple his government. Temer, speaking to a small group of foreign journalists at an investment forum in Sao Paulo, batted down questions about risks of a military intervention. The nine-day trucker demonstration against diesel price hikes has emptied roads and left major cities running short on food, gasoline and medical supplies.

Reuters May 30, 2018 03:05:52 IST
Brazil's Temer says no threat of a coup amid truckers' protest

Brazils Temer says no threat of a coup amid truckers protest

By Simon Webb

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Tuesday there was no chance that a nationwide truckers' protest that has paralyzed Latin America's biggest economy will spark a military coup and topple his government.

Temer, speaking to a small group of foreign journalists at an investment forum in Sao Paulo, batted down questions about risks of a military intervention.

The nine-day trucker demonstration against diesel price hikes has emptied roads and left major cities running short on food, gasoline and medical supplies. The nationwide protest has been has been slow to unwind despite a raft of concessions that Temer offered over the weekend.

Some striking truckers are calling for a coup, it is a hotly debated topic on social media, and fringe groups who want the military in charge have been a constant presence during many anti-government protests that have taken place in recent years.

"There is zero chance of military intervention," Temer said through a translator. "What I see is a rejection both in the Ministry of Defense and throughout the military forces to any kind of military intervention."

Polling shows that Temer is Brazil's least popular president since the nation's 1964-85 military regime ended. He remains under investigation on graft allegations.

If Brazil's Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge were to decide to charge Temer, it would be up to a congressional vote on whether or not he would be tried before the Supreme Court.

Temer last year fought off two such corruption charges. But it is not clear that he retains congressional support to survive any potential new charge, especially ahead of general elections in October and with Brazilians in polling consistently demonstrating deep dissatisfaction with leaders across the board.

TOUGH STANCE

Brazil's government has started talking tougher against the trucker protest, threatening to crack down on alleged political agitators contributing to the crisis.

Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann pledged hefty fines against distribution firms supporting the strike.

"Starting today, we will begin to find those infiltrators and we will fine those companies," he said in a radio interview, adding that antitrust agency Cade would also investigate the fuel distributors involved. "They know the price they will pay for the suffering they have imposed on the Brazilian people."

The more aggressive stance underscored the government's mounting urgency to end the protest.

The highway blockades and fuel shortages have halted industries from automaking to sugarcane crushing, hammering exports of everything from beef and soybeans to coffee and cars.

Some factions within the loosely organized trucker movement have added to demands and ignored a call to demobilize by industry group Abcam, which spearheaded the early protests and says it represents 600,000 drivers.

Oil industry regulator ANP said fuel distribution had begun to improve in cities such as Rio de Janeiro and the capital Brasilia but it remained scarce in several regions including the business hub of Sao Paulo.

It will take at least a week for fuel distribution to return to normal, according to ANP.

(Reporting by Simon Webb; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo, Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Brad Haynes and Susan Thomas)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.