25 thoughts on “Chile: Pinochet torture centre now Allende museum


    (Aug. 9, 2007) President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday inserted herself into an on-going polemic between the Catholic Church and the conservative UDI party by strongly supporting the Church’s call for a more fair distribution of Chile’s increasing wealth.

    Rightist Sen. Evelyn Matthei recently taunted the Church’s call for a more fair distribution of Chile’s wealth, saying Catholic Church spokesman Mons. Alejandro Goic knew nothing about economics.

    “I celebrate opinions I have heard suggesting that now is the time to work on narrowing the inequality gap we have in this country,” said Bachelet. “A country that is growing and developing like ours needs to understand that extreme inequality is a great national shame that is unacceptable (…) It is not about politics of the left versus politics of the right, or about being for or against business, or the government, or the opposition political parties. It is most certainly an issue that our government has assumed with great seriousness. But it is an issue that should unite all of us, so that it can be solved once and for all.”

    Mons. Goic, who recently worked to resolve the labor dispute at the state-owned Codelco copper mine, early this week asked the rhetorical question: “Is it possible to live on a minimum monthly salary of 140,000 pesos (US$280)? We must respectfully debate the unresolved debt that we have with Chile’s poorest. If we do not have social justice, then the conflict will return.” Bishop Goic also suggested Chile businessmen should pay their workers an ‘ethical’ salary and allow them greater organizing rights.

    Matthei, a vice-president of the conservative UDI party, took strong exception to Bishop Goic’s comments.

    “Mons. Goic needs to explain himself to the Chilean people,” said Matthei. “He has no idea about economics and should not be meddling in these very complicated matters. What I want to know is, what if a small company is not able to pay the minimum wage? Are we then going to say that the salary is not ethical enough and shut down the company? It is not possible to define what is or what is not ethically sufficient.”

    (Ed. Note: The “fair salary, fair society” polemic is getting much greater attention in Chile’s media, due in part to growing labor assertiveness in various sectors of the economy and the Catholic Church’s decision to involve itself in the issue. See today’s stories on Chile’s fresh fruit sector, as an example of the widening debate.)

    By Anne Pallisgaard (editor@santiagotimes.cl)



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