Chilean workers strike as military kills

This 22 October 2019 video is called United Nations calls for independent inquiry into Chile protester deaths.

According to the Chilean right-wing govermnment, 15 demonstrators in Chile have been killed, and counting.

By Eric London:

Dockworkers, miners initiate national strike as military kills 11 in Chile

22 October 2019

Over 11,000 soldiers and Carabinero police rampaged across Chile over the past 48 hours, firing live rounds at demonstrators and dragging protesters out of their homes at night in scenes reminiscent of the September 11, 1973 military coup.

Eleven people have died

Now already at least 15, as mentioned.

and there are 300 wounded, mostly in Santiago. The government of President Sebastián Piñera claims to have arrested over 2,100 people.

Many of those arrested claim they were denied access to lawyers and faced sexual harassment from soldiers and police. One group of female students told Prensa Opal they were forced to remove their clothes as soldiers doused them with water and screamed, “we hate communists”.

The crackdown was ordered from the highest levels of the Chilean state. In a Sunday night address to the nation, Piñera echoed former dictator Augusto Pinochet, declaring: “We are at war with a powerful enemy which is prepared to use violence without limit.”

The protest movement expanded yesterday and drew in broader sections of the working class, who responded with horror to the crackdown as videos of soldiers shooting students in the dark circulated across social media. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Santiago’s Plaza Italia yesterday afternoon chanting “soldiers, get out”.

Business was largely halted in Santiago and in many cities across the country even though the government announced Sunday it was rescinding the increase in metro prices that initially triggered demonstrations. A state of emergency remains in effect and the government expanded its nighttime curfew yesterday, with some areas moving its start time to as early as 6 p.m.

Dockworkers marched en masse through several cities, stopping the bulk of national exports and closing 20 ports as part of a national strike. Donning yellow vests worn for work, the sea of thousands of dockworkers resembled France’s “yellow vests” as they marched through the cities of Concepción, Antofagasta and San Antonio.

Copper miners—the most historically militant section of the Chilean working class, who produce the country’s primary export—also announced a national strike beginning Wednesday. This news drove the price of copper up substantially. Chile provides roughly one-third of the world’s copper supply.

Video showing copper miners on lunch break yesterday banging plates and silverware and chanting “general strike!” indicates the explosive mood in the working class.

Even so, workers at the massive Escondida mine, owned by BHP Ltd., struck for 10 hours last night in what the trade unions scrambled to label a “warning stoppage” in advance of Wednesday’s planned walkout—an acknowledgment that workers do not want to wait to strike.

A union official was also filmed telling a skeptical mass meeting of dockworkers yesterday that there is “no need to make a scandal and throw rocks”, imploring workers to follow the union’s lead regarding the strike and claiming this was the only way to make the “revolution” they want.

The Communist Party published a proclamation yesterday stating that the “false expectations irresponsibly created by Piñera and the right are the cause of accumulated anger and of the social explosion.”

The movement in Chile is developing as a struggle against the rotten Chilean “democracy” that maintained fascist control of the military. In recent days, demonstrators have chanted: “this isn’t about 30 pesos, it’s about 30 years,” referencing the three decades since Pinochet left office in March 1990.

Industry analysts and imperialist foreign policy journals are concerned by the prospect that demonstrations against social inequality could spread across Latin America. The Washington Post yesterday referred to the specter of a “Latin American spring” similar to the revolutions that shook North Africa and the Middle East in 2011.

Stratfor noted: “The Chilean protests come on the heels of similar anti-austerity unrest in Ecuador, which was triggered by the elimination of fuel subsidies. With regional economies squeezed by sluggish growth and governments still seeking to implement painful pro-market reforms, the situation is ripe for disruptive, widespread unrest.”

This clashes with a rosier tone taken less than a week ago when the Financial Times published an article praising Piñera as the “billionaire leader preaching virtues of the market” whose country is “a beacon of stability and sound management in a continent not famous for either.”

FT quoted Piñera: “Look at Latin America. Argentina and Paraguay are in recession, Mexico and Brazil in stagnation, Peru and Ecuador in deep political crisis and in this context Chile looks like an oasis because we have stable democracy, the economy is growing, we are creating jobs, we are improving salaries and we are keeping macroeconomic balance.”

Concerns over a growing global rebellion of the working class were expressed in a comment yesterday by Brian Winters, Vice President for Policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas: “Everyone following Latin America is watching this and saying, ‘Oh my god, Chile, too?’”

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