Truckers block roads in Chile for the fourth consecutive day this Thursday (24) and supply begins to be impaired in several regions of the country. Critics of the government of the leftist Gabriel Boric, the protesters demand a reduction in the price of fuel.
Protests take place mainly in the northern and central regions of Chile. On some roads, truck drivers completely block the way. In other stretches, they occupy lanes in partial interdictions that also hinder the transit of vehicles and the movement of goods.
Trade representatives are concerned about possible emptying of shelves and reduced inventory. The Union of Supermarkets of Chile issued a statement this Thursday reporting that, in recent hours, the supermarket sector has experienced logistical difficulties that “altered the normal supply of some of its facilities across the country”.
“This mobilization complicates us because it occurs right at the beginning of the most important harvest season and for the export of fruit, key to the country’s food and income,” said Cristián Allendes, president of the National Society of Agriculture.
Truck drivers demand, among other things, a 30% reduction and a six-month freeze on fuel prices, in addition to more effective safety measures on Chilean roads. The Minister of Finance, Mário Marcel, stated that the implementation of these measures would impact the public coffers by US$ 2.6 billion (R$ 13.8 billion) and, therefore, considers the demands disproportionate.
The amount, according to the minister, represents two and a half times the payment of aid paid in the past for seven million people or almost the entire primary health budget.
On an official visit to Mexico, Gabriel Boric said that the demonstrations are groundless and said he had instructed ministers to use “all the tools of law to protect the functioning of the country and the most vulnerable sectors”. He added that he has resorted to the State Security Law, which criminalizes crimes against national sovereignty and security, including public order disturbances.
On Monday, the government proposed to the National Confederation of Truck Owners to freeze fuel prices for three months. The proposal, however, was not accepted by the leadership of the movement. Cristian Sandoval, one of the coordinators of the protests, stated that the proposal was not satisfactory.
Despite the denial, the government insists that truck drivers stop the demonstrations. “A prolonged strike by truck drivers is not a strike against the government, it is a strike that attacks Chileans,” said Undersecretary of the Interior Manuel Monsalve.
Boric assumed the presidency in March. In September, with less than six months in office, he had his first major defeat when he saw the proposal for a new Constitution rejected by a wide margin. Despite not having openly supported the approval, the management of the current president is weakened by the fact that the new Constitution was one of the engines of his political coalition and an essential part of his campaign.
Boric emerged on the Chilean scene in the context of the 2011 student protests, which called for reforms in the education system. In 2019, new demonstrations expanded these demands to include access to pensions, health and quality housing. The current president was one of the articulators of the agreement that calmed the streets and pressured the then right-wing President Sebastián Piñera’s government to start the constitutional process.