Among the demands of the carriers is that the value of all fuels be reduced by 30% for six months.
The Government of Chile will deploy the State Security Law after the unsuccessful meetings with the truckers who began a strike on Monday to request greater security and protest the rise in fuel prices.
“It is not acceptable, we will not tolerate it”, commented Vice President Carolina Toha to the press. “The government has decided that it is going to invoke the State Security Law, as is appropriate in cases like this, and that is a fact,” she announced.
With this law, different crimes are addressed, among which is the normality of national activities. Specifically, it says that “any interruption or collective suspension, stoppage or strike of public services or public utility” that causes alterations or disturbances in the services “will be punished with imprisonment or minor relegation in its minimum to medium degrees.”
Visibly upset, Toha assured that “it has already been taken” and that the Executive made “every effort” to “avoid the conflict.”
“On Monday he made an agreement that contained very significant measures, an important effort to give a concrete response to various demands that had been raised by the carriers,” he explained.
Despite this, after Monday – he continued – there have been groups that have maintained an interruption of the normal operation of the roads, which has affected people, circulation and supplies in different parts of the country.
27 complaints against the mobilized
For his part, the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, announced that 27 complaints are being prepared against the mobilized carriers, and 13 of them have already been presented in courts of Arica or Valparaiso.
Monsalve added that the Carabinero has been asked to clear the routes blocked by the truckers, especially in the northern regions, the most affected by the strike.
“The measures that the government has committed, 1,500 million for Mepco [Mecanismo de Estabilizacion de Precios de los Combustibles]the fiscal cost of freezing the price of diesel is not free, it is paid by all Chileans who pay taxes,” he asserted.
And he continued: “We cannot, using the resources of all Chileans, solve the problems of specific groups.” Monsalve asked the truckers this Thursday to “take care of the country”, because the damage that “is produced is enormous.” “The aggression to take over the highways is not an aggression against the Government, it is an aggression against the citizens and in that we cannot have flexibility,” he stressed.
Following the government’s announcement, Cristian Sandoval, president of the Fuerza del Norte de Chile Trade Union Confederation of Transporters, asked the truckers to continue with the strike, but allow the transit of smaller vehicles.
“I know you are a little concerned about the statements made by Minister Toha (…) Our call to you, colleagues, is to stay to one side of the berm and let’s leave free transit for smaller vehicles”, he commented.
Sandoval reported that a meeting with the authorities is scheduled for this Thursday in La Moneda. “We have to also show an act of trust with them and that is to stay to the side of the berm and not block please so we can have good fruit,” he added.
The carriers demand, among other things, that the value of all fuels be reduced by 30% for six months. The head of the Treasury, Mario Marcel, considered this proposal “disproportionate”, since he could suppose an expense to the State of 6,500 million dollars.
Some of the organizations that did not participate in the protests, such as the Federation of Truck Owners of Chile, consider that this is not the time to initiate forceful actions. “The serious economic difficulties the country is going through, added to the union’s problems, are more than enough reasons to rule out a strike,” they pointed out.
The president of the Association of Fruit Exporters (Asoex), Ivan Marambio, indicated that the situation “it has become critical”. “Once again our fruits are paying the costs of a problem that we have not caused, but that is having negative effects on our sector,” she stressed.
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