Argentinian truckers block roads at peak of harvest and protest diesel shortage

BUENOS AIRES, June 22 (Reuters) – Angry Argentinian truckers blocked highways on Wednesday to protest shortages and rising diesel prices, as the country’s crucial grain harvest requires transport amid runaway inflation .

Trucking unions have said protests in the major corn and soybean exporting nation will continue indefinitely, in a bid to pressure the government to do more to deal with prolonged fuel shortages and to rising prices.

Outside the capital Buenos Aires, a traffic stoppage on a major highway stretched for about 7 km following one of the protests, called for by commercial transport unions.

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National truckers’ union UNTRA has called on the government to guarantee what it described as proportional diesel prices, according to a statement on Wednesday. Other associations have joined in the blockades of the highways, castigating the soaring price of diesel.

Almost the entire country, 21 of the 23 provinces, is suffering from fuel shortages, according to the national freight transport federation Fadeeac.

Senior government officials have blamed the shortages on growing demand as the economy recovers from a pandemic-induced slowdown.

“The lack of diesel is a conflict, a complaint, which really has to do with growth,” presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said, speaking on local channel Radio Con Vos. She added that the issues are being resolved but did not go into details.

This month, the government increased the biodiesel content required in diesel blends, hoping it could help ease industrial fuel shortages.

Domestic demand for diesel jumped 14% year-on-year in the first quarter, according to government data.

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Reporting by Lucila Sigal; Written by David Alire Garcia and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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