Many Latin American countries are forced to adopt urgent measures to cope with the energy crisis caused by high oil prices in the international market.
The problem is worse in oil importing countries like the Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile and Paraguay, as oil price topped 64 dollars per barrel on Monday, nearly double the price for the same period last year.
Calling the rocketing oil prices the world economy's "public enemy number one," President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez Sunday ordered public transportation vehicles to circulate only every third day to conserve gasoline.
In Peru, the government reduced the tax on kerosene by 10 cents per gallon and gasoline by six cents to cope with energy price surge.
To reduce imports of gasoline, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos ordered state-run petroleum firm ENAP to refine all the crude produced in the country. Gasoline prices increased as refineries in the United States were shut down in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina.
The pinch was also felt in nations rich in oil reserves. Brazil, a country almost self-sufficient in oil supply is considering a 6.5-billion dollar investment over the coming years to increase its extraction of natural gas, which it currently imports from neighboring countries.
Argentina is also considering plans to cut foreign sales in a bid to keep more crude available for refining at home.
Meanwhile, Mexican President Vicente Fox said Monday he will present a bill before Congress urging an opening of the natural gas sector to private investment.
The move would protect Mexico from energy vulnerability, he said.
Mexico, the biggest crude producer of Latin America and second largest exporter in the region behind Venezuela, imports natural gas and gasoline from the hurricane-stricken southeastern area of the US.