Gov’t Talks Collapse, Strike Continues

May 16, 2008

Tuesday morning started the ninth consecutive day of the transportation strike with an increased feeling of despair following the breakdown of talks Monday night between the transportation sector and the government.

The talks fell apart when the government refused to budge on its original proposal to lower the price of diesel by 30 U.S. cents a gallon for the bus cooperatives, but not for truck drivers.

The transportation sector is demanding that pump prices be frozen at 40.5 cordobas a gallon (about $2.10), or less than half the current price. The difference, the transportation sector insists, should be subsidized by Venezuelan aid, which the government this week was accused of treating like money stashed away inside its own personal safe.

The collapse of the talks Monday night dashed hopes that the crisis would be resolved at the beginning of this week, and instead promised to escalate the strike in the coming days.

Andres Lara, president of the Nicaraguan Transport Chamber, warned Monday night that the continued strike could mean “the country could collapse.” Lara criticized the Minister of Transport Fernando Martinez for playing a “sad role” for President Daniel Ortega.

Lara and others said they would not sit down again with anyone in government other than Ortega, who is viewed as the only person in the administration with the authority to negotiate.

As one bus driver said, “The only person who can resolve this crisis is the one who caused it in the first place.”

 

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