Socialist Worker

More revolts in Latin American countries

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2682

Protesters in Chile in November

Protesters in Chile in November (Pic: B1mbo/Wikimedia commons)


The revolt against ­neoliberalism and corruption has spread to new countries in Latin America

In Colombia huge numbers of workers struck and there were major demonstrations on Thursday of last week. The strike was the largest the country has seen for more than 40 years.

The BBC reported that more than 250,000 took part in marches, but organisers claim the real figure is 1.5 million or more.

Hundreds of thousands marched through the capital of Bogota, closing 130 bus stations.

At least 20,000 marched in Cali, and tens of thousands more participated in over 100 cities and towns across Colombia.

The protests continued for days, despite Colombia’s president Ivan Duque ordering police and troops on to the streets.

They have killed at least three protesters.

The trigger for the revolt was ­possible changes to the minimum wage, pensions and the ­privatisation of state companies.

But as with other countries the underlying issue is bitter anger at inequality and the lack of real democracy.

Colombia’s three richest people own more than 10 percent of the country’s annual production.

Prepared

The protests are not ­spontaneous. They were prepared for weeks by a coalition of groups angry at the ­government and rule by the rich.

As Colombia erupted, 100,000 health workers in neighbouring Peru were in the second day of an indefinite strike.

They are demanding that the government of president Martin Vizcarra takes action over the ­country’s healthcare crisis. Hospitals lack basic medicines and other resources to treat patients.

Vizcarra, terrified of a ­growing movement, has pledged more money for health and a higher ­minimum wage.

Meanwhile in Chile protests and strikes continue despite concessions from the government.

An annual summit of Chile’s business elite was held last week. Traditionally it brings together 500 super-rich to hear a congratulatory speech from the country’s president.

This year the group convened only 120 attendees and had a ­psychiatrist address them instead. The gathering’s title was “Day of Internal Reflection”.

Even where there are not yet ­protests, rulers are nervous.

The Financial Times newspaper said on Monday, “Brazil is ­postponing a contentious overhaul of its public sector amid ­spreading social unrest in Latin America, ­spurring concerns about president Jair Bolsonaro’s ability to push changes through a fractured Congress.

“As street protests continue to erupt from Chile to Colombia, the Brazilian leader backed off from the proposal.”

However the recent coup in Bolivia should underline that the ruling classes across the continent will fight using every weapon it ­possesses to hang on to their power.

The interior minister of Bolivia’s new right wing government has vowed to jail the former president Evo Morales for the rest of his life.


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