In Chile, hundreds of thousands of teachers, public servants, university and high-school students, and union members are marching Thursday against President Sebastian Piñera's economic and security policies in 26 cities. "We are facing the most dangerous anti-union and neoliberal offensive since the return to democracy," Chile's Central Workers' Union (CUT) argues.
In Santiago, the country's capital, the CUT gathered at least 100,000 protesters who joined a march organized in the context of a multi-sectoral national strike. The demonstrators have already reached Chile's presidential palace La Moneda.
The march was organized by the CUT but activists, social movements, and social organizations have joined them. The strike opposes reforms to the labor code that target unions and collective bargaining, rejects rising unemployment, and the criminalization of Mapuche resistance and other social movements, among others.
"They coincide in that Sebastian Piñera's anti-union and neoliberal policies are deepening the crisis that Chileans have been protesting for over a decade, demanding salaries that match the work and Chile's alleged development, a decent pension... the criminalization of the student movement is also rejected in the streets of Santiago," Paola Dragnic, teleSUR's Chile correspondent reported.
The No + Pension Funds Administrators (AFP) is also participating in the national march to protest Piñera's pension reforms, which according to the movement will deepen the privatization of the pension system rather than establishing a solidarity and distribution system, which pensioners are demanding.
On Monday, the Confederation of Chilean Universities (CONFECH) and the CUT's Secretariat for Juvenile Affairs occupied offices of the Ministry of Labor and announced their adherence to the strike.
"The students of Chile adhere to the national mobilization announced by Chile's workers for this Nov. 8 because we think it is important to advance towards the consecration of social rights and social justice in our country," Cristopher Hidalgo, spokesperson for CONFECH told local media.
"In the face of the government's onslaught in favor of precarious labor for young people, through a bylaw that affects our rights, and the criminalization of youth through projects like 'Safe Classroom,' we have decided to join the strike organized by the workers, who are also our mothers and fathers," Amanda Opazo of the National Confederation of Highschool Students said.
"The people of Chile demand social and political union to face this adverse political scenario," the CUT contends.