Congress seeks to cushion oil price surge
11 June 2008
MADRID – Congress Tuesday night unanimously approved a motion calling on the government to implement economic measures to prevent soaring oil prices from "drowning" vulnerable families and companies.
The motion, presented by the Popular Party and regional nationalists, was debated on the second day of a nationwide transport workers’ strike as picketing truck drivers blocked deliveries of food and gasoline and caused traffic jams around cities across the country.
The protest claimed its first victim Tuesday. At one of Andalusia’s largest wholesale food markets outside Granada, a picketer was run over and killed when he attempted to stop a truck from leaving with cargo. A similar incident in Portugal, where truckers are also protesting, claimed the life of another driver in Alcanena, north of Lisbon.
In both countries, government efforts to reach an agreement with haulers have so far failed, with drivers demanding cuts in diesel prices and minimum transport tariffs.
Spanish opposition parties have accused the government of being slow to react.
"When [Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero could have taken measures he didn’t, but now he must act," Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the PP’s spokeswoman in Congress, declared.
Though the strike had been brewing for days, Tuesday was the first time that Public Works Minister Magdalena Álvarez offered a public response, telling reporters in a press conference that the administration has proposed a package of "51 measures" to the truckers.
Álvarez said the police are guaranteeing essential supplies of goods around the country, but many gas stations reported shortages, while fresh food started to disappear from supermarket shelves.
[El Pais / Ángeles Espinosa / Expatica]