Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Saturday, 21 June 2008 22:40 UK

Argentina farmers lift roadblocks

Protesting farmers block roads near Rosario
The farmers' protests have caused deep divisions in Argentine society

Farmers in Argentina have lifted most of the roadblocks they put in place across the country during a three-month dispute with the government.

The cause of the dispute - a sharp increase in taxes on soy and other agricultural exports - is now to be debated by the Argentine Congress.

But farmers are poised to resume their protest if no progress is made.

The protests caused widespread food shortages, travel chaos and hit the export of agricultural goods.

The protesting farmers set up and manned more than 300 roadblocks across the country.

Truck drivers, inconvenienced by the farmers' blockades, erected their own barricades.

The protests made it impossible on some days to travel around Argentina, stopping materials from reaching factories and hitting tourism, with hotels reporting big losses.

Sigh of relief

The farmers' decision to end the protest came after President Cristina Fernandez said the contentious export tax increases would be sent to Congress for debate.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler, in Buenos Aires, says most Argentines will now be breathing a deep sigh of relief that the dispute, for now at least, is over.

The government says it needs to raise taxes to tackle inflation and improve help for the poor.

But some farmers fear Congress will merely rubber stamp the tax policy, and are prepared to resume their protest.

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