Monday, January 16, 2006

Unreasonable Chileans

Mellie reckons that the recent debate here and on spanblather about trade unions exposes a fissure between 'reasonable' and 'unreasonable' models of unionism and of left-wing politics. Meanwhile, No Right Turn has welcomed the election of the uber-reasonable Michelle Bachelet as Chilean President, claiming that her success and the reign of her predecessor Lagos represents a fulfilment of the doomed Salvador Allende's prophecy of the eventual triumph of the left in Chile. Alas, twenty-eight thousand contract workers at El Teniente, the world's largest copper mine (check out the photo), don't share No Right Turn's enthusiasm. A week ago police attacked their picket lines, arresting forty-two of them, but their strike for a wage bonus is holding. The World Socialist Website reports that:

Copper prices have reached US$2.10 a pound, generating a windfall of US$3.3 billion for the first nine months of 2005. The surplus notwithstanding, the Chilean government has taken a hard line toward the strike. Economics Minister Nicolas Eyzaguirre declared the government will not be blackmailed into giving in to the subcontractor employees...

The strike places a question mark over the support that the Chilean unions have given presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet, who calls herself a socialist. The miners’ union has called on its workers to spoil their ballots if the government does not grant the bonus.

Damn unreasonable, ultra-left miners...

Update: here's Bush's response to Bachelet's election. It's worth contrasting it with the White House response to Chavez's various election victories:

"She comes from the same party as President (Ricardo) Lagos. The president (George W. Bush) has had a very good relationship with President Lagos and looks forward to continuing to build on that relationship with the new president," [White House spokesman] McClellan added.


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