The Chilean Central Union of Workers (CUT) will peacefully mobilize this Wednesday 30 throughout the country in the framework of a national strike called by the Social Unity Platform. In Santiago, the march will start at 11 am with posters and banners from unions, student, environmental and feminist organizations.
Mobilizations have been taking place, uninterrupted, since October 18, when students started protesting against the rise in the metro fare (that reached 1.17 dollars).
This rise was the “detonator” in a country where the richest 1 per cent concentrates 26.5 per cent of the total wealth, while half of the lower-income homes barely access 2 per cent of wealth.
The general strike also implies marches and actions around the country. In the capital city, the march will start at 11 am in Plaza Italia and then a “cacerolazo” (a demonstration where saucepans are banged as a sign of protest) will take place at 8pm. Mobilizations will also continue in the next days.
While on Tuesday 22 Piñera made some economic announcements, “apologized” and said that the people were heard, he also congratulated the military officers for their actions in the streets to enforce the curfew declared on October 19, in addition to the “state of emergency” in the country.
The mobilizations are channeling the strong social dissatisfaction, as seen with the massive general strikes and open assemblies on October 23 and 24 and the first massive march of Chile on Friday 25, where over a million and a half people gathered around Plaza Italia (Santiago), in addition to marches in Valparaíso on Sunday 27. The second massive march took place on Tuesday 29 after Piñera made some changes to the Cabinet of Ministers and announced a disappointing “social agenda”, which the CUT considers “not enough”.
This National Strike comes with the strong demand for a Constituent Assembly to reform the Constitution, in force since 1980, under Augusto Pinochet´s dictatorship.
“Chile has awakened to say no more social, economic, cultural and political injustice supported by Pinochet´s Constitution. Those who hold economic and political power today won´t listen to people and think that by changing some ministers and offering some handouts the people will be appeased. We will continue until the deep changes needed come true”, stressed ANAMURI, the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women of Chile, member of La Via Campesina.
In a statement published by ANAMURI on October 29 they add: “The new Chile we want requires that the important and strategic role of peasant agriculture and native peoples, artisanal fisherfolk and forests and coasts is protected. Neoliberal policies have sought to destroy us to turn food into a business, promoting agroexports and signing free trade agreements that benefit capital and destroy our food basis as a country”.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party announced that they will file on Wednesday 30 a “constitutional accusation” against former Minister of Interior Andrés Chadwick for failing to adopt measures to stop “the systematic violations of human rights during the State of emergency”.
“The people have taken peacefully to the streets in defense of their rights, and as a reaction to the announcements made by Piñera. This shows that the people, workers in general, want substantial changes, not the same recipes implemented by neoliberal governments”, said Tamara Muñoz, Secretary of International Affairs of CUT to Real World Radio.
Piñera said “We are at war”, as a state response to the mobilizations after the declaration of state of emergency and curfews. Then he said that he apologized, that he now had “heard the people”, but at the same time he congratulated the military forces deployed throughout the country, who attacked, injured and murdered hundreds of people and arrested over a thousand people more.
“Each time the President speaks, more people are encouraged to protest, because they realize that Piñera is no good to run the country and he should resign”, added Muñoz.
The union leader said that they have been receiving many reports of human rights violations “against people who have been harassed, tortured, arrested. 22 people have died (as of October 23) and the authorities remain silent about what has happened: there are killing us in the streets just for demonstrating or demanding what is right for the people”.
There isn´t yet an official figure of the number of people killed in the framework of protests as a result of repression.
As of October 29, the Human Rights Institute (INDH) was dealing with 138 legal actions for human rights violations, among them 5 homicide cases and 18 sexual violence reports. They have requested the militarized police officers to “respect intervention protocols to maintain public order”, since the excessive use of force has caused at least 1000 injured people (half of them due to firearms), three of them members of the Institute itself.
The INDH registered 3712 people arrested and is also denouncing arbitrary detentions (with military and police officers entering homes of students representatives without judicial warrants), indiscriminate use of tear gas, firing shots directly to people, use of pellets and cases of sexual violence by police officers.
The UN is preparing a mission with three representatives of the High Commissioner for Human Rights led by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The mission was expected to arrive to Chile on Monday 28, but it has been postponed and a new date has yet to be defined. 13 days have passed since the fierce military repression started.
President Sebastián Piñera announced on Wednesday noon that due to the public order situation experienced in the country, he was cancelling Chile as the host of the APEC Summit (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) scheduled for November 16-17 with 20 international political leaders scheduled to participate, and he also announced the cancellation of COP25 (the UN Conference on Climate Change) that was planned from December 2 to 15.