Argentina's food and fuel shortages worsened on Friday as groups of truckers continue to block highways in spite of the government announcement that the stoppage was over following talks with one of several protesting groups.
Meantime another industry, tourism, was added to the list of victims of the unsolved three months farmers' conflict and the grain truckers' strike that are requesting the government and farmers resume negotiations to solve the stand off that erupted last March following the announcement of sliding levies on grain and oilseed exports. This is a long weekend in Argentina and many city residents mainly in Buenos Aires were planning to take advantage of the three days. However with prospects of pickets in the roads and fuel and food shortages the number of bookings and ticket reservations is down over 50% compared to a year ago according to the country's Chamber of Tourism. "The worst problems have been the supply of dairy products, flour and oil" and regarding beef "price ceilings are not being respected anywhere, except for chain supermarkets, but most of the popular cuts are missing from the shelves" claimed the head of the Wholesales' Distributors Chamber, Alberto Guida. He said that companies are not receiving supplies and cannot distribute stock. The situation is critical, especially regarding "refrigerated and fresh products" nevertheless, flour, rice and oil are also scarce. The UIA Industrial Union said that there would be devastating consequences as a result of the interruption of free circulation in the country, affecting manufacture production, supply and employment. Meanwhile, Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernández, admitted that the government is "concerned and enraged" because of the ongoing pickets, and warned farmers of the "damage they are doing to the economy of the country," and he repeated his opinion that the discussions over the conflict "are over." The Argentine Cargo Transport Union FADEEAC, urged farmers and truckers to "normalize the situation, so that transporters can go back to work" as many teamsters have been jobless for more than 90 days. "We're receiving 500.000 liters of milk per day when the normal supply this time of the year is over four million liters. We have been forced to stop supplying the interior of the country" warned Ernesto Arenaza, spokesperson for La Serenísima, Argentina's main dairy processing complex. "If this continues next Monday the shortage of milk and other produce will begin to be felt in Buenos Aires", he added. Another large dairy processor SanCor revealed that they being forced to dump between 300.000 and 400.000 liters of milk per day which can't reach the plants because of the pickets.