Argentine truck drivers’ unions called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday, causing miles-long road closures and other transportation disruptions that threatened to jeopardize the country’s food supply during its peak harvest season, Reuters reported.
“Angry Argentine truck drivers blocked highways on Wednesday [June 22], protesting shortages and rising prices for diesel fuel, just as the country’s crucial grains harvest requires transport amid surging inflation,” the news agency reported.
“Truck driver unions said the protests across the major corn and soybeans exporting nation will continue for an unspecified amount of time, aimed at pressuring the government to do more to address the extended motor fuel shortages and rising prices,” Reuters relayed.
A major highway just outside Argentina’s national capital of Buenos Aires was blocked with standstill traffic extending four miles on June 22 as a direct result of the commercial truckers’ protests.
“National truck drivers union UNTRA asked the government to assure what it described as proportional diesel prices, according to a statement on Wednesday. Other associations joined in on the highway blockades, blasting the spiking cost of diesel,” Reuters reported.
Crisis24, a news website run by the Canadian private security firm Garda World, detailed trucker unions’ plans to strategically block transit routes across Argentina starting on June 22, writing:
Protesters will set up roadblocks on major routes across the country to prevent cargo trucks from crossing; organizers say they will not target other vehicles, such as private cars and emergency transport.
Reports indicate ongoing roadblocks on National Route 151 near Cipolletti in Rio Negro Province; the intersection of National Route A012 and Provincial Route 18 near Rosario, Santa Fe Province; and highways between Rosario and Buenos Aires as of early June 22.
Demonstrators plan to stage additional blockades in Rio Cuarto, Rio Primero, and Sinsacate in Cordoba Province. Drivers in Tucuman Province also blocked roads across the province during related demonstrations [on] June 21.
“Cargo shipping delays, fuel supply shortages, and associated business disruptions may occur if the strike and demonstrations are prolonged,” Crisis24 noted.
Several commercial transport unions in Argentina are participating in the strike, including the National Union of Carriers and Related Companies of the Argentine Republic (UNTRA) and port workers from the Union of Port Administration Workers (SUTAP).
“Tomorrow, Thursday [June 23], we will cut off access to the port of Dock Sud [in Buenos Aires], and we will also make a cut in some access,” SUTAP head Adolfo Barja told reporters on June 22, as quoted by the news website TN, which is owned by Argentina’s Clarín media conglomerate.
“Regarding the type of protest that will be implemented this Thursday, the trade unionist anticipated that ‘here in Dock Sud, starting at 5 in the morning, the colleagues will go up and carry out a strike and block access to the port,'” the news website further quoted Barja as saying.
Argentina’s national freight transport federation (FADEEAC) said on June 15 that 21 of Argentina’s 23 provinces were suffering from motor fuel shortages.
“Senior government officials laid the blame for the shortages on growing demand as the economy recovers from a pandemic-led slowdown,” Reuters observed on Wednesday.