Latin America & Caribbean

Uruguay farmers hold mass protest over high costs

Farmers, traders and haulage contractors holding Uruguayan flags gathered to claim tax reliefs to President Tabare© Vazquez's government in Durazno, Uruguay, on January 23, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The farmers were joined by haulers and people working in refrigeration as well

Tens of thousands of Uruguayan farmers held a protest in the city of Durazno on Tuesday to demand more government support for their industry.

Agriculture is key to the economy of Uruguay, which is one of the world's largest cattle exporters.

The protesters are demanding tax cuts for the agricultural sector.

They say the government is spending excessively on things like office rents and its fleet of vehicles, the cost of which is handed down to farmers.

The mass gathering is the first major protest against the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition government in the almost 13 years since it came into power.

"We're sick of our voices being ignored, but when it comes to collecting taxes, we're not ignored," the organiser of the protest, Federico Hozman, said.

Speaking to EFE news agency, protester Eduardo Blasina said that areas of government spending were now "excessive", adding that in 2004 authorities used to manage on $3bn (£2.1bn), but were now spending about $17bn (£12bn).

"Each year taxes go up and the fiscal deficit increases and it just doesn't stop," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The protesters want to see a drop in diesel and petrol prices

The farmers also demanded that the price of petrol and energy be lowered to help bring down their production costs.

According to Global Petrol Prices, Uruguay has the most expensive petrol in the region after prices there shot up by almost 10% in 2017.

The protesters plan to present their proposals to President Tabaré Vázquez on Friday.

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