Peru’s government, led by president Alejandro Toledo, is facing a rising tide of strikes.
Toledo was elected four years ago. He promised to create jobs for millions and ease poverty, but instead continued to push through neo-liberal economic policies.
He has presided over a growing division between rich and poor. Some 40 percent of those in the capital, Lima, are now too poor to meet their most basic needs.
Poverty and allegations of corruption saw Toledo’s approval rating drop to 8 percent earlier this year — the lowest figure for any political leader in the Western hemisphere.
Low wages and privatisation have sparked strikes by teachers, dockworkers, agricultural workers and health workers — including a month long strike by 20,000 nurses.
The US has been accused of planning to station troops at an airbase in Paraguay. The airbase at Estigarribia is in a key strategic location — near the borders with Brazil and Argentina, and within easy reach of Bolivia’s gas reserves.
According to the Australian Green Left Weekly, “Since December 2004, the US has been pressuring Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Paraguay into signing a deal that would grant immunity to the US military.
“The Bush administration threatened to deny the countries up to $24.5 million in economic and military aid if they refused to sign… Paraguay was the only country to accept the offer.”
A leader of a peasant union in Colombia, Reynel Duque Ramirez, was found shot dead on 16 September. Eyewitnesses say he was seized by armed men on his way to work.
The murder is the latest in a series of killings of trade unionists. Colombian unions are set to strike on 12 October against state repression and the government’s economic policies.