Chile

Voices from across South America have denounced Israel’s massacre of more than 50 Palestinians on May 14 and its ongoing repression of protesters participating in the Great March of Return that began in Gaza on March 30.

They have also condemned the United States’ decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem and pledged support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid.

Chile’s new president, Sebastian Pinera, of the right-wing party National Renewal (RN), has announced that he plans to “modernise” the country’s Anti-Terror Law.

With the release of the full text of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on February 21, activists in the 11 signatory countries finally got to see if their worst fears of a corporate power grab would be confirmed.

Unfortunately, they mostly were.

The first round of Chile’s presidential election was held on November 19. The right-wing candidate, ex-president Sebastian Pinera, won with 36% of the votes. He will compete in the second round against centre-left candidate Alejandro Guiller.

But the big surprise was the result for the Broad Front (FA), a heterogeneous left coalition headed by Beatriz Sanchez. The FA candidate came in third, with 20% of the vote (just two points short of making the second round).

Since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990 after the fall of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, the South American nation has maintained a largely stable and predictable political system. However, the stability of this post-Pinochet political set up has seemingly come to an end.

A clear expression of this was the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections held on November 19.

Left-wing parties in Chile are pushing a plebiscite for a Constituent Assembly to address the main social issues affecting young people, workers and communities.

Activist Cristian Cuevas from the New Democracy Party, which forms part of the Broad Front (FA) alliance, said they are seeking a strong showing in the November 19 presidential and parliamentary elections to push forward on their proposal.

More than 2000 people demonstrated on September 26 in Chile's capital Santiago to support four Mapuche Indigenous community members who have been on hunger strike in prison for 113 days.

The four were charged under a controversial anti-terrorism bill passed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

After a long battle, women will have the right to abortion for therapeutic reasons. Chile’s Constitutional Court announced a bill allowing abortion in such circumstances had been approved on August 21, despite pressure from conservative right-wing forces.

Mining companies have benefitted over the past few years from rising global demand and prices, but workers have seen little to no benefit from the boom.

Now mine workers are flexing their muscle to demand their share of the spoils.

About 2500 workers have been on strike since February 9 at the Escondida mine in Chile’s north.

Owned by two Anglo-Australian mining giants, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Escondida is the largest producer of “red gold” in the world. The mine extracts about 900,000 tonnes a year. This represents 20% of copper production in Chile, the country with the largest copper reserves in the world.

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