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Protests Over High Fuel Prices Spread Worldwide 


The price of crude oil has dropped more than $4 since last Friday when oil prices reached a new record of $139 a barrel. But economists say falling oil prices will not bring gasoline prices down anytime soon. Consumers from Asia to Europe are becoming increasingly concerned. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, protests over the rising cost of fuel are spreading worldwide.

In eastern India, angry protesters overturned rickshaws and public transport vehicles to show their displeasure. Some beat people with placards and flags to discourage them from driving.

Protest organizers accuse the government of ignoring the needs of its citizens while protecting the profits of state-owned oil companies.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arjun Munda says the governing party has lost its moral authority.

"I am calling for a shutdown because the way the United Progressive Alliance party has broken the back of the common man," Munda said.

In Spain, a strike by the nation's truckers on Monday, threatened to bring the country to a standstill. Some motorists say the truckers have stopped delivering gasoline, leaving some petrol stations in Madrid dry.

"I came to fill up and there is no fuel of any sort. I will have to go during the morning somewhere else," one motorist said.

Spain's Transport Association says 90,000 truck drivers have been asked to take part in the ongoing strike over high fuel prices. Trucker Carlos Campoy says they have no choice because their livelihoods are at stake.

"This is like a tug of war,” Campoy said. “We must not give up at the beginning. This is the last bullet in our gun, If this doesn't work, we are lost."

In Nepal, sharp increases in the price of diesel and cooking fuel have driven the price of food and basic supplies beyond the reach of some citizens.

Although street protests were mostly peaceful, the authorities say these kinds of gatherings can quickly turn violent.

There was no violence but a lot of traffic and chanting in Hong Kong Tuesday. Hundreds of demonstrators snarled traffic in the city as they marched towards government buildings. State run television says some protesters abandoned trucks in the middle of busy streets causing severe traffic jams in the city's financial district.

A spokesperson for Hong Kong's bus operators said drivers are angry because the government discounted taxes on wine but continues to raise taxes on fuel.

And in France, where citizens have increasingly turned to commuter trains to get to work, massive delays caused by striking train workers prompted some Parisians to use alternate modes of transport.

Some turned to the cheapest and most reliable method -- They walked.