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High Fuel Prices Lead to Protests in Europe

In recent days, oil prices topped a record $139 per barrel. As a result, Spanish and Portuguese drivers have started an indefinite strike.

Spanish strikers blocked distribution centers to try to force the government to establish a minimum haulage fee to counteract a 35 percent rise in fuel costs over the past year, reported Reuters.

Long lines of trucks formed on the French side of the border after picketing Spanish truck drivers smashed the windshields of other drivers who attempted to defy the strike and enter Spain.

“We have no more solutions. We can’t afford diesel any more. It’s as simple as that,” Jean-Claude Ferrand, the head of a drivers’ trade union, told Spanish national radio, according to the BBC.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has offered truckers credit lines and voluntary retirement packages, but said they will have to adapt to a competitive and changing market.

In Portugal, a group of truckers threatened to block the main roads running to the Algarve tourist region to keep goods from reaching the area.

Lines also have formed at Spanish and Portuguese supermarkets after truckers said they would run out of fresh food within days.

Demonstrations across Asia have prompted countries such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia to raise fuel subsidies to help ease fuel prices.

In the United States, the national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline hit a record $4.02 on Monday, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, even though the price has been higher in many parts of the country for weeks, reported the Associated Press.

Gas prices often peak around Memorial Day weekend and then decrease over the summer. But this year has been unusual as oil prices have continued to rise steadily since last fall.

And if oil prices stay around $139 a barrel, gas prices will likely rise another dime in coming days, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., quoted the AP.