National truckers’ strike continues amid first signs of shortages

Blocking important arteries all over the country, truck drivers are demanding more security and lower fuel prices. Not all truckers associations are participating, though. Having dismissed some demands as excessive, the government has ordered the clearing of some roadblocks.

Truckers keep blocking Chilean highways, demanding lower fuel prices and stepped up security along routes.  

“As truck drivers, we do not have any safe parking to spend the night, sleep, and add to that the uncontrolled increase in fuels in general, both oil and gasoline,” Carlos Galaz, a representative of a truckers’ association from Paine, was reported as saying by local media.

Still, not all associations support the strike. Criticism came from powerful business group CPC and even fellow truckers. Negotiating with some associations, the government agreed a reduction in diesel prices, but the leader of northern organization Fuerza del Norte vowed to press on.

First signs of shortages in some areas are already emerging. In a statement on Wednesday, supermarket association Supermercados de Chile said “during the last few hours, the supermarket industry has experienced logistical difficulties that have altered the normal supply of some of its premises throughout the country”.

Precarious Context

Security is especially precarious in the regions of La Araucanía and Biobío, where armed groups, comprising paramilitaries, organized crime or radical Mapuche, often hijack and burn trucks.

Interior Undersecretary Manuel Monsalve told protesting truck drivers to “take care of the country” and “get off the routes,” emphasizing the economic damage they cause. The government announced the invocation of the national security law and police is clearing roadblocks in some areas.

Fuel prices, on the other hand, keep rising amid global tensions and rocketing inflation.

The Finance Ministry said adhering to a demand to lower fuel prices by 30% for six months would cost US$2.5 billion, roughly equivalent to the primary health budget. Finance Minister Mario Marcel dismissed the demand as excessive.

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