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Higher fuel prices spark social unrest in South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Police in Argentina blocked off a main entrance to the center of the capital on Tuesday to prevent a group of truck drivers from joining a downtown protest, adding to traffic congestion in Buenos Aires. caused a series of disruptions caused by anger over rising prices and fuel shortages across South America, largely as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Cars were backed up several kilometers (miles) until truck drivers agreed to open a lane for regular vehicular traffic as they moved to protest against the ongoing shortages and drop in diesel prices. out in weeks to the capital of Argentina.

Argentina is just one of a number of countries in South America that has seen a buzz from rising fuel prices, largely as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In Peru, truckers staged an indefinite strike on Monday to protest higher fuel prices while in Ecuador at least five people were killed in more than two weeks of protests. led by locals. price.

The impact of higher prices is also affecting executive offices. In Brazil, the chief executive officer of state oil giant Petrobras resigned last week amid political pressure from falling prices.

Motorists around the world are feeling pumped up as gasoline and diesel prices are skyrocketing in large part due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic- 19.

That pain is turning into social unrest in several countries in Latin America, where rising inflation, itself fueled by higher energy prices, is causing discontent among many in one of the regions. The best in the world have a hard time making a living.

Protest truckers in Argentina are also demanding higher fees for transporting grain.

Truckers have been protesting for weeks due to diesel shortages at gas stations around the country and their attempt to keep out of their capital as part of an effort to get the government’s attention. President Alberto Fernandez.

“They give us 60 liters a day to work with,” said Rubén Darío Fernández, a 61-year-old truck driver who was among those trying to enter the capital on Tuesday. “The problem is you can’t take long trips nor work all week with that.”

In Ecuador, President Guillermo Lasso abruptly cut off dialogue on Tuesday with the largest Indigenous group leading the protests after an attack by protesters left an army officer dead and 12 others protecting the country. drove a convoy of fuel trucks in the Amazon.

The Federation of Indigenous Peoples has been leading a strike for more than two weeks calling for lower fuel prices along with other needs, including greater health and education budgets.

The talks were adjourned a day after protesters and government officials sat down to talk for the first time since the strike began.

The protest in Argentina is different from other similar protests in the region because it is more related to shortages than high prices due to problems in procuring diesel in 23 of Argentina’s 24 provinces. , according to the truck federation.

But truck traders also say the shortage is leading to price increases.

“They charge whatever they want for the small diesel there,” said Roberto Arce, a 49-year-old truck driver who was at the rally on Tuesday.

The Argentine government has stated that the supply problem will be over soon. Transport Minister Alexis Guerrera said in a local radio interview on Saturday that things would return to normal “within the next 15 or 20 days”.

Argentina tightly controls pump prices and relies on imports for about a quarter of its diesel consumption.

State-controlled oil company YPF, Argentina’s largest producer and refiner, said on Monday it would import 10 shipments of diesel over the next 45 days to help ameliorate the shortage.

Argentina’s fuel production has not kept up with demand, creating a bottleneck at a critical time for the country’s crop harvest as the agriculture industry and the trucks used to transport produce to ports. mainly rely on diesel for fuel.

According to a recent report by the Argentine Institute of Energy, Argentina’s diesel sales rose 16% in the 12 months ending April, while production increased less than half of the 7% rate.

In Peru, truckers continued to protest for a second day on Tuesday, saying current fuel prices, coupled with general inflation, were making it difficult for them to make ends meet.

Luis Marcos, a leader of the transportation companies, told a local radio station: “The essence of our requirements lies in not being able to deliver the regularly increasing volumes of diesel to our customers. .

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Associated Press journalist Victor Caivano contributes from Buenos Aires.

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