Business & Economy

Striking Chilean truckers reject latest proposal from gov’t

Santiago, Nov 23 (EFE).- Two associations representing Chilean truck drivers said Wednesday that their strike to protest high fuel prices and crime on the country’s highways will continue, rejecting the government’s latest proposal to address their grievances.

President Gabriel Boric’s administration offered to establish 12 well-lit, police-protected rest areas along the main roads linking Santiago with the northern city of Arica and inject an additional $1.5 billion into the Mechanism for Stabilization of Fuel Prices.

“The mobilization continues until we can reach a definitive accord,” Cristian Sandoval, president of the Strength of the North Transporters Confederation, told the media.

“It’s not satisfactory, there is not a more comprehensive solution to the problem,” said the head of the National Cargo Transport Confederation, Sergio Perez.

The protest, which the leaders claim extends the length of Chile from Arica to Punta Arenas, includes rolling blockades aimed at slowing traffic.

The undersecretary of Chile’s interior ministry, Manuel Monsalve, said Wednesday that the government will use “all the tools” available to it under the rule of law “to protect the normal functioning of the country.”

“If that implies using the State Security Law, the government is going to use the State Security Law,” he said.

The National Confederation of Truck Owners and the Federation of Truck Owners of the (Santiago) Metropolitan Region are among several transport industry groups that issued a statement Monday denouncing the strike as “absolutely irresponsible” in light of the “grave economic difficulties the country is experiencing.”

This is not the first time this year that truckers have flexed their muscles.

Chile is especially vulnerable to truckers strikes due to the absence of any alternative means of ground transportation, a result of the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship’s decision to allow the rail network to fall into decay. EFE ssb/dr

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