|Chile: mine workers occupy church in protest|
World War 4 report
August 7th, 2012
A group of 23 contract workers occupied the San Ambrosio Church in Vallenar, capital of the northern Chilean province of Huasco, on the morning of Aug. 4 to protest labor conditions at Pascua Lama, an open-pit gold, silver and copper mine being built in the Andes at the border between Argentina and Chile. Eight of the protesters took over the bell tower, where they shouted and banged on the metal structure to draw attention to their complaints against the mine's operator, the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.
The main motive for the protest, according to Ricardo Véliz, regional
coordinator of the National Mining Union ((Sinami), which represents
the contract workers, "is to let the community know…about the bad living
conditions which the workers who provide their services in Pascua Lama
are experiencing." Several workers had to transferred out on an
emergency basis because they had symptoms of hypothermia, Véliz said.
The mine is at an altitude of some 4,500 meters above sea level, and
temperatures go down to –20º C (-4º F). Rafael Castillo, the vice
president of a workers' group, told Radio Bío Bío that workers die every
year for lack of medical attention at the site. The protesters said
they wouldn't leave the church until the authorities listened to their
complaints. (Radio Universidad de Chile, Aug. 4; lainformacion.com, Aug. 4)