Chile: Key port for fruit paralyzed amid wave of unrest

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Chile: Key port for fruit paralyzed amid wave of unrest

The Chilean port of San Antonio has been paralyzed since Monday night due to strike action by almost 2,000 workers.

Local Mayor Omar Vera said that the workers were acting in solidarity with the mass protests that have gripped Chile over the last 12 days.

Around 1,700 workers from both of the port's terminals are taking part in the strike, with many ships waiting to unload their cargo.

A source from the San Antonio port workers' union said the strike would continue until late on Wednesday night. It is not clear if strike action may continue later in the week.

Many ports in the country - including San Antonio - were impacted last week from striking workers and a military-imposed curfew every night for several days.

The situation comes as the Chilean summer fruit season gets underway. Late October and early November typically see low export volumes, but supplies increase rapidly from then onward. The first table grapes from the northern regions normally set sail in late November or early December.

Chilean protests ongoing

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. More than one million people - over 5% of the population - joining the country's largest-ever protest on Oct. 25.

This week Chilean President Sebastian Piñera reshuffled his cabinet in a bid to calm the unrest. But protesters are demanding more significant changes to the country's social, economic and political systems. 

On Wednesday, he canceled the APEC Summit due to take place in November and a climate change summit in December.



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