Chilean food export groups: "Urgent normalization" from civil unrest needed

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Chilean food export groups:

Numerous Chilean food export associations have urged swift end to the country's worst unrest in decades.

In a joint statement, they said "urgent normalization" is needed to protect the country's image and avoid severe problems in the industry.

A now-suspended rise in Santiago's metro fare sparked nationwide protests since Oct. 18 that have widened to reflect the deep anger that many feel in one of South America's most prosperous but unequal countries. 

There has been widespread disruption throughout the country, with many cases of looting, arson, and violence, and the government has declared a state of emergency in numerous regions. The country's ports have also been affected by strikes over recent days.

The Chilean food groups - including the Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) and organizations representing meat, wine, dairy, nuts and wine exporters - said they respect people's right to peaceful protest and condemn the violence. 

"We urge the corresponding authorities and the political leaders of our country to take all the necessary measures to normalize the harmony among citizens as quickly as possible and create proposals that allow the normal development of all activities," they said.

"To assure its continuity and contribution to the country's development, our food production and export sector requires urgent normalization to avoid serious internal consequences, especially on our workers, the population's food supply and our country's image internationally."

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera on Oct. 22 announced a raft of social reforms including wage rises and taxes on the rich in a bid to calm the unrest.

But many critics say the measures don't go far enough and are demanding more significant changes to the country's social, political and economic structure.

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