Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chile: Workers fight for their rights against Socialist President?

Discussion Question: What's the point of having a Socialist president if the government unleashes violence against the workers and tries to enforce a neoliberal economic policy supported by US Imperialism. Copper prices are up 12% so Chile can afford to meet the worker's demands. The CP and members of the SP along with the unions were out in the streets today-- where was the Socialist President-- she was on the wrong side of the barricades! The following report is from the BBC so it has some limitations from a working class point of view, but even this report points out the problems of low wages and economic inequality in Chile. Hey, No Justice, No Peace!

E-mail this to a friend [copy and paste]
Clashes erupt at Chilean protests
Chile clashes
More than 450 people have been arrested after police using tear gas and water cannon clashed with protesters in the Chilean capital, Santiago.
The worst violence broke out when police tried to prevent demonstrators marching on the presidential palace.

Dozens of people were injured, among them a socialist senator.

The main trade union federation called the protest, saying the government's free market economic policies have meant poorer conditions for workers.

Demonstrations took place in several cities around Chile, but outside the capital they were mostly peaceful.

Appeal for dialogue

There were clashes throughout the day in Santiago, where riot police tried to stop demonstrators moving on the government palace, La Moneda.

The marchers threw stones, while the police responded with teargas and water cannon.

Local television showed Socialist Senator Alejandro Navarro with blood streaming from a head wound after he was struck by a police officer. A police spokesman later apologised.

Trade union leaders promised to continue their protests.

"We're going to continue behaving badly as long as there is injustice in this country. We're happy people are here because it means Chile is defending itself." said Maria Rozas, vice-president of the trade union federation, CUT.

President Michelle Bachelet said there was space within Chilean democracy for people to express their demands but it should be done peacefully.

Democracy, she added, did not need disorder and violence.

Chile has one of the strongest economies in Latin America and has one of the lowest poverty levels in the region.

The BBC's Horacio Brum in Santiago says about three million workers, roughly half the workforce, earn the minimum (w)age of $260 (£130) a month.

"But a family of four, without thinking of pension plans and health insurance etc, needs about $1000 to $1,500 a month to live comfortably."

The popularity of President Bachelet's government has slumped in recent months, with Chileans taking to the streets to demonstrate, among other things, against unemployment, the education system and poor public transport.

No comments: