Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chile- Workers Protests met by Batons and Tear Gas


Over 400 protesting Trade Unionists were arrested in Santiago as a huge trade union mobilisation against the neo-liberal policies of the 'centrist-left' government, was met by strong arm tactics from the police.
The protest was called by Chile's largest trade union, Unified Workers Congress (CUT ) http://www.cutchile.cl/
demanded better working conditions for employees against the backdrop of increased buoyancy in the Chilean economy, generated by high world copper prices. Teachers and health workers along with students and members of the Communist Party http://www.pcchile.cl/ and left members of the Socialist parties participated in the demonstrations.The worst clashes occurred as marchers tried to approach the government palace, La Moneda, where protesters were prevented from assembling .
Chile, which has one of the strongest economies in Latin America still suffers from high unemployment and increasing poverty. Ten percent of the population in Chile holds 47 percent of the country's wealth, the United Nations Development Programme has said.
President Bachelet's government has faced a large number of protests in the past six months with Chileans regularly taking to the streets to demonstrate against high unemployment, the education system and poor public transport.The protest follows a series of huge strikes in recent weeks in the country's mining, forestry and agriculture sectors.
Bachelet, has brought about a massive split in the country's socialist movement over her embracing of 'neo-liberal' economic policies in an attempt to maintain her coalition government with their right wing coalition partners.
Chile, with 15 million inhabitants, is the world's biggest producer and exporter of copper, ahead of the U.S. and Australia. The economy expanded 6.1 percent in the second quarter fueled by higher investment, domestic consumption and exports. Copper prices rose 16.7 percent this year. 'When you press a balloon, sooner or later it explodes, and in this case the people are the balloon,'' said Luis Perez, a 32 year-old employee at a law office in Santiago, after joining the protest. ``The country has money in its pockets but it doesn't help poor people.''
With state revenue benefiting from the two-year surge in copper prices, the government should be spending more, said Roberto Daza, a 41-year-old taxi driver in Santiago.
``We have a terrible health system, hospitals are crammed with patients,'' he said. ``Chile has lot of resources from higher copper revenue that should be distributed more equitably among the people,'' he said. Codelco, owned by the Chilean government and the world's largest copper producer, said on Aug. 14 that it added a record $4.67 billion in profits and taxes to government coffers in the first half of the year.
BBC footage of the events in Santiago can be seen here.....

14 comments:

Korakious said...

Red Squirrel's Lair up and running again!

First post is a quite enlightening article about the wildfires in Greece. Come along!

Naj said...

Hi,

I read elsewhere they uo have visited Iran on Academic exchange ... was intrigued and dropped by to say hi :)

Gabriel said...

Yes thats right Naj, glad you dropped by, make sure to come and drop in again...

tomasdinges said...

Hi there,

Nice post. Where did you get the quote from the guy Luis...did you go or just cite from a news report? Its not completely clear.

I think the issue is not just redistribution of copper revenues, but creating ways so that profit made by companies reflects externalities of business on society. Cost of living is very expensive in Chile, and while much profit is made, environment is a mess and wages are a total disaster, especially, of course, compared with executive wages. See a Mercer Human Resources study with findings to this effect.

Redistribution of copper revenues just continues a tradition of poor people, or the marginalized, leaning on the government to ameliorate their destiny of being lower class or poor.

They look to papa or mama government for solutions, rather than fighting the corporations that are screwing them everday and in every aspect, from wages to the price of milk.

I come from the United States, where this is how we are raised, with the govt not providing much support, but in Chile the culprit for inequality is moreso private sector than public, i would argue.

Its just that its easier to go after the govt and not private sector.

cheers and good luck,
Tomas

Levi9909 said...

Hey, do you know Dean Reed? - aka Comrade Rockstar. Strange guy and not the most principled I don't think but he was courageous in his own way. Check out this youtube clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj7VlmS1Rz0

sonia said...

Chile, which has one of the strongest economies in Latin America...

Ten percent of the population in Chile holds 47 percent of the country's wealth


I wonder if those two things are related...

One thing is sure, North Korea, where 50% of the population holds 50% of the country's wealth, the economy is in the shithole...

mamacita chilena said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by!

Good article about the chaos around here in the past weeks...things certainly seem to be going downhill for Bachelet. And because Chileans are terribly machista this means that she will be the last female president that they have for a while.

mamacita chilena said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by!

Good article about the chaos around here in the past weeks...things certainly seem to be going downhill for Bachelet. And because Chileans are terribly machista this means that she will be the last female president that they have for a while.

mamacita chilena said...

http://lovetotravelchile.com/2007/09/05/love-to-travel-chile-link-it/

I linked to you...

Lauren said...

As someone who's only lived in Santiago under Bachelet, I wonder how the protest situation was before? Did people take to the streets so regularly? I've grown somewhat accustomed to the "something happened so the police will be outside my building soon" mentality, which bothers me. Watching the tear gas pour out of the guanaco shouldn't really be old news to me because I've seen it so many times before, it should still be unsettling.

Chileno said...

>>>They look to papa or mama government for solutions

Tomás, is GOV'T redistribution the entirety of the workers' narrative? I don't think so. Yes, I think it's easy for poor people to cite that, and for neo-liberal press to latch on to that argument because it's easy for Koncertación socialists to introduce nominal social programs and pretend to treat the symptoms.

The real problem is that Pinochet-era anti-strike laws need to be repealed, the Koncertación does not repeal them. The concentration of wealth is a problem that has been plaguing Chile for hundreds of years. As Lagos pointed out in the 60's, it economic groups, tied to banks, control every aspect of the goverment in Chile. Lagos the young socialist clearly identified the complex evils of economic groups. Lagos the president nakedly exacerbated them.

So yeah many people say that the government should dip in and hand out and sure why not. But I think more intelligent people know that it's more than hand-outs, it's deep systemic changes that socialists like Lagos promise, but depart from entirely.

>>>I come from the United States, where this is how we are raised, with the govt not providing much support, but in Chile the culprit for inequality is moreso private sector than public, i would argue.

Exactly, it's the private sector's fault but they DO control the government. So protesting the government is correct in that it would create a counter-balance as the government is forced to represent the people as well. You seem to imply, if unintentionally, that in Chile there is some sort of conditioned expectation that the government would care for its people, that they're cosseted more than the states, and I find that ridiculous. Social programs in Chile are far worse than the US, and changing them in earnest is the least the Chilean government could do.

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