Police lifted the petrol depot blockade yesterday afternoon.


At 15.00 hrs yesterday 40 members of the National Police and 30 members of the Guardia Civil were ordered to break up the blockade of protesting fishermen, farmers and truck drivers at the main CLH fuel depot in Palma and re-establish fuel supplies to the island which overnight ran out of fuel. The order to mobilise the police and for police to escort fuel trucks out of the depot and back on to the open road, was given by central government delegate Catalina Cirer who last night said that police intervention was necessary in order to prevent a “major crisis.” But in the wake of the police action, the Majorcan fishing fleet and the farmers' Union was last night calling for her resignation for “lies and violence.” During her briefing she admitted that she had gone back on the assurances she had given the protesters on Tuesday night by sending in the security forces, but had little option with the vast majority of the island's petrol stations running dry, the general public being made to suffer and alarm bells ringing in the tourist sector. Cirer said that, despite having promised protesters she would respect the blockade for 24 hours, after three days of blockades at the island's fuel depots, the situation was getting to the point of no return and where refilling the petrol pumps would take days with desperate motorists panic buying all over again. Motorists eager to find fuel yesterday drove all over the island and at the few petrol stations which had fuel, long queues built up with frustrated drivers forced to sit it out and wait. Yesterday morning the Association of Travel Agents called an emergency meeting to discuss their operations ahead of the weekend and thousands of tourists to be transfered to and from the airport and a large part of the island's hire car fleet was grounded with some clients left without a car. Thousands of residents faced the dilemma of getting to work and taking their children to school while others stayed at home. Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich met protesters outside the fuel depot overnight and told them that the government was receiving calls from local councils and emergency services across the island, unsure of what was going on and whether or not the local police, ambulance services and doctors would have fuel. Cirer, who was blamed for the lack of information supplied to the local authorities, claimed last night that the police break-up of the fuel depot blockade marks the end of the protests over rising fuel prices in the Balearics and on the mainland a tentative accord appears to have been reached between the government and protesters.