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Cablegate: Brief Truckers' Strike Over Rising Costs Resolved

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2173 1691550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171550Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3193
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8245
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0551
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 6269
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 1863
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6937

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002173

SIPDIS

WHA/EPSC FOR ZSYED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELTN ENRG ELAB PGOV CO
SUBJECT: BRIEF TRUCKERS' STRIKE OVER RISING COSTS RESOLVED

REF: BOGOTA 2053

1. (U) SUMMARY: A 22-hour strike by 145,000 Colombian
truckers ended June 16 after industry representatives reached
agreement with President Uribe on credits for the sector to
replace aging vehicles and revamp regulations on shipping
fees and rules. Trucking representatives said they resorted
to calling a strike after rising fuel costs made already
difficult industry conditions untenable. The strike caused
only minimal delays at Buenaventura port and there were no
reports of violence. Normal operations are expected to
resume June 17. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Squeezed by unregulated trucks, high toll and fee
costs, and now rising fuel costs, Colombia's Trucking
Association (ACC) called a nationwide strike of its 145,000
members at midnight on June 15. ACC said approximately 60
percent of its members participated in the strike. Following
a four-hour meeting between senior ACC representatives and
President Uribe on June 16, the ACC called off the strike.

3. (U) In the meeting with President Uribe the GOC agreed to
provide low cost financing to retire 5,000 aging trucks, new
rules to combat overweight vehicles, and a grace period on
foreclosure of indebted trucking firms. President Uribe also
agreed to issue a decree reaffirming minimum shipping fees
and establishing a electronic registry system to assure
shipping agents do not contract unregulated trucks. While
the truckers pressed for relief on fuel prices through a
revision of the existing diesel subsidy or a reduction in the
value-added tax on fuel, the GOC announced no such measures.

4. (U) GOC transportation and port officials told us that the
short-lived strike resulted in relatively minor delays at
Buenaventura port and no interruption of normal service in
the Cartagena, Barranquilla or Santa Marta ports. (NOTE: A
17-day transport strike in 2004 cost the Colombian economy
over USD 70 million. END NOTE) ACC and GOC officials agreed
that all trucking operations should return to normal June 17.
There were no reports of violence associated with the strike.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Although resolved quickly with minimal
economic disruption, the decision by Colombian truckers to
strike reflects the growing pressure less competitive
industries feel from external factors such as higher fuel
costs and the appreciation of the peso (reftel). with no end
in sight to external cost pressures for shipping and other
sectors, more sector-specific strikes may arise soon.
BROWNFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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