Spanish police have cracked down on protestors blocking roads as tensions between the authorities and ordinary people over the fuel crisis hit a new peak. Riot police arrested lorry drivers and reopened a main road in Madrid that they had blockaded with the lorries as part of nationwide action against soaring prices.
Spain has been particularly hard hit by the crisis and subsequent protests. Now the government is taking a tough line against the demonstrators.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said: “We’ll continue to act with the maximum force and the maximum firmness against those disturbing public order or disrupting traffic or transport to areas where there are no strikes. This especially concerns illegal pickets.”
The protests that have been going on in several countries in recent weeks have intensified in Spain in the past few days.
At one blockade in Granada a minute’s silence was observed for two men killed in separate protests in Spain and Portugal yesterday. They were hit by lorries trying to pass blockades.
In Almeria it was farmers venting their fury over diesel prices. They, like others in fuel-reliant industries, say they are struggling to stay in business. Some were arrested after clashes in which police were pelted with aubergines.
The lorry drivers’ strike is hurting industry and commerce in Spain and Portugal. Shops are running low on supplies and there are fuel shortages in both countries. Their governments are working on solutions involving financial aid but EU rules give them little room for manoeuvre.