Chile’s capital saw its biggest rally yet on Friday, following 15 straight days of demonstrations sparked by a hike in public transportation fees, in which at least 18 people have been killed, over 200 injured and thousands arrested. As things heated up in Santiago, however, protesters nearly 700 miles north locked down roadways in the Atacama salt flats, blocking access routes to some of the region’s abundant lithium mines. Chile is home to the world’s largest lithium reserves, as well as one of the top producers of the lightweight metal, used in cell phone batteries and other electronics.
According to reports, last Friday saw the biggest march of Chile. 1.5 million people in the streets of Santiago protesting against all the injustice of the so called “paradise” of the neoliberal system. This is the largest protest in Chile since the end of Pinochet dictatorship in the 90s.
President Sebastian Pinera proposed a series of reforms on Tuesday night – which included lowered electricity costs and overturning the increase in transportation fees that sparked the rallies – but was largely rejected by the burgeoning protest movement, which apparently did not find the promises persuasive.
On the other hand almost everywhere in Latin America, from Ecuador to Venezuela and Brazil, to Argentina and Columbia to Mexico people have recently taken to the streets in large numbers against invading foreign neoliberalism, inequality, austerity measures and state repression and have thus rejected the US enforced nascent rightist governments or attempts to coup (just as in Venezuela) and thus continue to standby or elect left wing socialist governments. Bolivia, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela are recent such examples besides Chile.