Protests, Riots Go Global as Fuel Costs Soar
"Worldwide protests over the rising price of fuel escalated today, with the Philippines presidential palace besieged by lorries, fishermen burning their boats in Thailand, and Spanish petrol stations running dry as hauliers blockade major roads. Violence has already claimed lives of lorry drivers on either side of the dispute, while one haulier was nearly burned to death in his cab by strikers.
Hundreds of lorries and minibuses blocked roads in Manila leading to Malacanang Palace today to demand the lifting of a 12 per cent sales tax on fuel. Petrol prices there have risen about 24 per cent this year.
Traffic ground to a halt as anti-riot police halted the convoy, including about 500 tuk-tuks, Manila's three-wheeled taxis.
In Thai capital Bangkok, tens of thousands of heavy lorries are threatening to cause havoc while farmers are demonstrating and fishermen have begun burning their boats in nationwide protests against soaring prices of fuel and other essentials. Lorry drivers' leaders warned the government that it has until next Tuesday to subsidise their fuel or face at least 100,000 vehicles rumbling into Bangkok.
A half-day strike yesterday by lorry drivers who parked their vehicles on roads across the country was only a prelude to next week's possible push into Bangkok, they said. Finance Minister Suraphong Suebwonglee said there were plans to help reduce transport costs.
Lorries driving at low speed jammed access roads around Madrid, Valencia and Murcia, while sea links between the Balearic Islands and the Spanish mainland were cancelled due to lack of fuel. Shortages are also beginning to bite in neighbouring Portugal, where retailers have said food stocks at supermarkets are beginning to run out, and several petrol stations in Lisbon ran dry yesterday. Portuguese farmers said they would have to throw away 660,000 gallons of fresh milk by the end of the day unless the protest ended because they had run out of storage capacity."