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26 June: A historic day of struggle and unity for workers and students

category bolivia / peru / ecuador / chile | education | news report author Monday July 01, 2013 22:53author by Periódico Solidaridad Report this post to the editors

Santiago was awakened yesterday [26 June - tr.] by the fires of the barricades that were erected at different strategic points of the cold capital, interrupting the monotony of its days. Roadblocks thus welcomed people to a new day of protests that have come about in the search for answers to the demands that the people have long been forcefully putting forward in a process of change. [Castellano]

Port workers and students in Talcahuano
Port workers and students in Talcahuano

26 June: A historic day of struggle and unity for workers and students

Santiago was awakened yesterday by the fires of the barricades that were erected at different strategic points of the cold capital, interrupting the monotony of its days. Roadblocks thus welcomed people to a new day of protests that have come about in the search for answers to the demands that the people have long been forcefully putting forward in a process of change.

But it was not only the capital that woke up to fires - in various locations around the country such as Concepción, Valparaíso, Temuco, La Serena, Calama, San Antonio, Osorno, Arica, Puerto Montt and Antofagasta, mobilizations had been called by the interbranch CONFECH union [Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile - tr.], by ACES [Coordination of High School Students - tr.], by the Unión Portuaria de Chile [port workers - tr.], by subcontracted workers in the copper industry (from the SITECO and CTC trade unions). They were joined by the CONFUSAN (local health care), teachers and other sectors. The axes of this new student strike, interacting with a strike of production in strategic sectors of the Chilean economy, are as follows: free, quality education, an end to the system of the AFP [Pension fund administrators - tr. ndt] and the re-nationalization of natural resources, especially copper.

The government's response was not long in coming. Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick immediately make vaguely fascist threats, criminalizing and accusing the protesters of being violent, delinquent workers and students who were instead legitimately mobilized for this day of struggle.

In the capital, the three marches set off from different points in the centre at 1.00 pm, with a total of more than 100,000 people taking to the streets between slogans of struggle and shouts of indignation. As usual, the police repression did not wait long, firing bullets and tear gas with the intention of breaking up the demonstrations. Despite the police action, the day of action continued throughout the day, with demonstrations, marches, caceroleos (pot-banging) and barricades.

In Valparaíso, transport workers joined the strike; to the north, miners blocked access to the El Teniente mine; in Chuquicamata, CTC workers [copper workers' confederation - tr.] blocked access to the mine, and along the coast of Chile, there was blockading of 90% of ports thanks to the solid, combative and class-conscious workers, who erected barricades abnd joined the protests underway in the various regions of this long, narrow strip of land. In Calama, a citizens' assembly called a municipal strike against the local authorities who have been unable to answer the demands of local people, such as the demand for a share of 5% on sales of copper, for 400 million dollars compensation, for the re-nationalization of copper, water and lithium, as well as to have the area classified as depressed. The same happened in Tocopilla, where there was a municipal strike.

Then at 7.00 pm in Santiago, a large demonstration was called in protest against the government repression and in order to make the demands known to all. In Plaza Italia about 800 people gathered - according to official figures. But the long day did not end there, with cacerolazos called in various areas and neighbourhoods in the country, inviting people to take to the streets on their own. The inhabitants of many districts in Santiago and other regions heeded the call.

Without doubt the 26 June 2013 will be remembered as one of the longest days of protest since 2011 and mainly thanks to the participation of workers in strategic productive sectors throughout the country and to the great participation on the streets both in Santiago and other cities across the country. Yesterday certainly sets a precedent in terms of the unity of the struggle between students and workers.

Lastly, at dawn on 27 June, the government took its revenge by forcefully evicting students from those schools destined to host the first round of presidential elections, which had been occupied by the students previously.

Periódico Solidaridad

27 June 2013

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

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