ERCILLA – Several truckers have been injured in arson attacks in La Araucanía and Biobío regions. The government has responded by dispatching more police and ramping up surveillance. A union leader, however, demands more action and threatens a strike.
Arson attacks have damaged several houses, churches, and vehicles in south Chile’s Ercilla locality. Some drivers even sustained gunshot wounds.
Truckers are pressuring the government to take strong action and Congress pass bills that “protect social peace.”
The president of the powerful Fedesur truckers’ union, José Villagrán, told Radio Cooperativa last Friday that “if the president of the republic does not take the necessary measures, then we as Fedesur will act, and not by taking on the sidewalks, but the highways.”
Villagrán said truckers don’t need more police, helicopters or money; they need the government to solve this problem, which he called “a political issue.”
In a tweet, the head of cargo transport union CNTC, Sergio Pérez, also demanded government action and measures by Congress.
Nuevamente nos vemos enfrentados a los ataques que reciben los trabajadores del rodado en el sur del país, por eso reiteramos con fuerza y determinación la necesidad y urgencia que el Gobierno y Parlamento actúen y aceleren la tramitación de leyes que protejan la paz social. pic.twitter.com/5f8sOWSCeR
— CNTC CHILE ® 🇨🇱 (Cuenta Oficial) (@CNTCCHILE) February 4, 2021
After a strike in August 2020, the government and unions agreed to some commitments. But Villagrán said “[then-Interior Minister] Víctor Pérez lied to us because it turns out that we signed a paper that has no value today, because the president unfortunately does not recognize it as an agreement between the Chilean state and truck drivers.”
Yet, the leader of the truck owners confederation, Juan Araya, told Radio Cooperativa on Sunday that “the most important thing here is to find, we have to ally with all the authorities, with everybody that wants to find a solution to the Mapuche problem.”
Araya said a strike would not be feasible right now because of harvest season.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado presented a surveillance plan led by Carabineros and deployed more armored vehicles along Route 5 Sur to establish safe rest areas for drivers.
Entre pidima y Ercilla. pic.twitter.com/ilG6zkokjT
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@eulogioge) February 4, 2021
Days ago, a trucker was attacked with gunshots on Route 182, damaging the truck’s fuel tank. Arson attacks have also destroyed churches in Nueva Imperial and private properties near Lanalhue Lake.