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Europe’s ‘Demand Destruction’ Is the Destruction of People’s Productive Lives

March 21, 2022 (EIRNS)—In Spain on March 20, some 150,000 farmers and cattle breeders took the streets in Madrid, calling on Pedro Sanchez’s socialist government to take immediate measures to curb rising prices, especially fuel and fertilizer prices, and falling farm income. Demonstrators formed a 4 km procession led by tractors, horsemen and hunting dogs. Spanish flags were all over and banners read, “Cattle breeders in the process of extinction” or “SOS rural world.” “This government is ruining us, with increasingly expensive fuel,” said Nora Guzmán, who came from Pozuelo de Alarcón, west of Madrid, driving her tractor. They responded to the call of the Alianza Rural platform, which claims to represent 10 million Spanish farmers and was organized the day after the one that brought together thousands of people at the call of the far-right party Vox to protest the food and energy price rises, aggravated by the Ukraine conflict. The country’s main trade union confederations have called for a general strike on March 23.

Truckers in France are striking against soaring fuel prices. On March 21, several smaller independent road haulers are blocking access to highways in Normandy and northern France, mobilized by gasoline prices at the pump. Under the effects of inflation and the war in Ukraine, diesel or gasoline costs around €2/liter. “We demand a professional gasoline ceiling, a professional license for our drivers and a pricing of transport,” explained Dominique Durand, a member of the France TPE transport group, speaking to France Bleu Picardie radio. “We are being strangled by this increase in the price of fuel, which reaches 30%,” added Claude Baralle, manager of the transport company Cambrai Logistique Services, aalso on France Bleu Picardie. “We cannot pass this increase on to our customers.” Faced with the protest, the government announced on March 18, an envelope of €400 million for road transporters. Too late and not enough say angry truckers.

The soaring price of oil is hitting French fisherman very hard. As in most fishing ports of France, in Sète, a major fishing ports on the Mediterranean, fishermen are voicing their anger, blocking access to the commercial port and sailors demonstrated in front of the Prefecture of Montpellier.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the cost of its tax-free fuel exploded, from only 90 cents in early February. In March 2021, the price of a liter of “fishing diesel” was only 45 cents and today it has risen to €1.10, the first time it has crossed the €1 mark. The bill for a full tank of diesel has doubled. The most dependent trawlers consume 1,500 to 2,000 liters of fuel per day at sea, so inevitably, the profitability of the boats is affected. For fishermen it is more like a nightmare. They invent exotic tricks to limit their fuel consumption, such as reducing the size of their nets.

The French government will give handouts (with taxpayers money) to allow companies and sailors to be paid while the ship remains at dock, as long as prices are unaffordable. This clearly is what the investment bankers call the “destruction of demand” and supposed in the medium term to bring oil prices down, but when?

“People should realize that when units go out to sea, they lose money. They spend more money on fuel than they earn in fish,” says Bertrand Venling, director of Sathoan, the organization of Sétois fishermen. Finally, the 92 trawlers in the Mediterranean have received a small boost. Each boat should receive between €1,400 and €2,500 for not sailing. The measure is a first for French trawlers in the Mediterranean.

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