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Brazil's Truckers Are On Strike And It's Getting Pretty Intense

The five-day-long strike over fuel prices has left stores empty, gas stations with massive lines, and the government ready to send in the armed forces.

Posted on May 25, 2018, at 5:53 p.m. ET

A truck drivers strike in Brazil entered its fifth day Friday — a mass protest that has already caused shortages of essential products, left gas stations empty throughout the country, and restricted operations at major airports.

Mauro Pimentel / AFP / Getty Images

The trigger for the strike was a new pricing policy from Petrobras, the country's state-owned oil company, to adjust prices daily based on changes in the international price of oil.

Mauro Pimentel / AFP / Getty Images

A depreciation in Brazil's currency, the real, together with increasing oil prices, is driving up fuel costs — angering the drivers, who've begun parking on major highways in protest.

In large cities, there is no fuel at most gas stations. In São Paulo, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, public transportation was halved.

Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

Food shortages are the norm in many of Brazil's markets, with no way for produce to make it to grocery stores.

Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty Images

Outside the cities, dairy farmers were forced to dump milk that was close to souring because there was no way to deliver it.

Em Passos (MG), produtores despejam em rodovia leite que não pôde ser entregue e nem doado.

On Thursday, the Brazilian government and truck drivers' representatives announced a deal, which included reducing the price of diesel.

Douglas Magno / AFP / Getty Images

But Friday, in the face of continued strikes, President Michel Temer authorized the use of the armed forces to free roads blocked by truck drivers.

Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty Images

It's the government playing their ultimate trump card to increase pressure against the strikers — but it's not clear that they'll actually be deployed to force the trucks off the roads, making it anyone's guess when the strike will actually end.