EFESao Paulo

Seven people were arrested during a police operation to clear a highway leading to Santos port, Latin America's busiest, although supply-threatening roadblocks by truckers continued Wednesday in 13 Brazilian states.

The roadblocks by independent truckers and logistics companies have affected the country's main roads and on Tuesday cut off access to the Santos port for 12 hours.

The truckers, who launched the protest last Friday, are seeking a a reduction in the cost of diesel and higher compensation for hauling their freight.

Police detained the seven people Tuesday night during an operation to clear the roadblock and restore access to that port. The arrests were made after unknown assailants set fire to a truck not far from the port.

Because of the roadblocks, only 10 percent of the freight scheduled to arrive in Santos on Tuesday reached its destination.

The Federal Highway Police also said that, in addition to Sao Paulo, protests are being carried out in 12 other states, most of them important farm producers with large amounts of freight destined for export.

Presidential spokesman Miguel Rossetto said the government will meet Wednesday afternoon in Brasilia with truckers' leaders, but he ruled out the possibility of lowering diesel prices.

"Reducing the price of diesel is not on our agenda," Rossetto said.

Diesel prices have risen because President Dilma Rousseff's administration has restored a tax on the fuel as part of an effort to balance the budget and preserve Brazil's investment-grade credit rating.

The roadblocks have forced some companies to suspend deliveries and also are threatening supplies of food and fuel in some cities.

The protests are affecting the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Parana, Sao Paulo, Goias, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Para, Bahia, Ceara, and Piaui, according to official reports.

Brazil's government said it has filed petitions asking the courts to order the immediate suspension of the roadblocks nationwide.

Judges from Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul have ordered that the highways be cleared and threatened to fine the MUBC trucking union, named as one of the protest organizers, in the event of non-compliance.

In southern Brazil, near the border with Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, the protests have led to a drop in meat production and shortages of vegetables and fresh milk in the northern part of Parana state, the Agencia Estado news agency reported.

Lack of fuel for farm machinery also has caused a suspension of the soybean harvest in the western state of Mato Grosso.