>> Friday, May 09, 2008

Starting this past Monday, most taxis and buses in the country have been on strike to protest the rising prices of gas. Since very few people have cars of their own, most rely on taxis or buses to do any travelling, even to work or school. Additionally, there have been road blockages that have prevented commercial trucks and private vehichles from travelling from one department to another; apparently over 100 people have been arrested for protesting and business losses are already estimated at millions of dollars.

For our part, the Peace Corps has been keeping a close eye on the situation; we're all required to stay in our sites, though we couldn't really go anywhere if we wanted to--all the busses from Masaya to other cities have stopped running, and only a few taxis remain in the city.

Fortunately, Paul has his bike to go to school and I can walk briskly to mine in about 20 minutes. Many of the other teachers at our schools live in nearby towns or cities and just have to stay home.

It is nice having a lot less traffic on the streets in Masaya, but it's been a big hassle to be unable to take the city bus to school. Business also seem to be running out of some items due to delayed deliveries, so we hope this all gets worked out soon, especially before we get visitors next week!

is an article with a little more information:

Nicaraguan taxi and bus drivers that transport an estimated 1.5 million people a day went on strike yesterday saying they won't start up their engines again until the government sits down to negotiate a solution to skyrocketing gas prices, the highest in Central America.

Trucks drivers were also on strike, paralyzing the economy.

The strike comes as international crude oil prices topped a record $120 a barrel this week.

“There's been no response from the president of the republic to end the strike,” said Vidal Almendárez, president of the Federation of Taxi Drivers. “There have been attempts to negotiate locally, but we're telling them negotiations have to happen here in the capital.”

The federation, which represents an estimated 15,000 taxi drivers nationwide, began the strike along with the National Transportation Coordinator and the Interurban Transportation Directorate yesterday, which represent regional bus drivers.

The only bus drivers that have kept the motors running were those on urban Managua routes, which receive a subsidized gas price that is about half the market price for gas in Nicaragua, which was more than 90 córdobas a gallon this week ($4.70).

Almendárez said the rest of the country's bus and taxi drivers want a deal similar to Managua buses, and want the government to sit down with driver union leaders to find a solution.

The government says it has offered to sell the cooperatives gasoline at cost – for a savings of roughly 6 córdobas ($0.30) less. But as of 6 p.m. yesterday evening, no agreement had been reached.

“We seek an alternative in which the price of gasoline is frozen so we can have a reasonable price for users. People aren't able to pay these prices,” Almendárez told The Nica Times.

Keep your fingers crossed that it all ends soon!


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