Chile: Concern that truck blockages could impact fruit exports

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Chile: Concern that truck blockages could impact fruit exports

An industry representative in Chile has voiced concern that ongoing strikes and blockages by truck drivers could impact fruit exports.

Truck drivers have blocked highways for several days after a long-running conflict with indigenous groups in the south of the country led to a spike in arson attacks on their vehicles. Truckers are demanding congressional approval for bills that would improve security and increase penalties.

Ronald Bown, President of the Chilean Association of Fruit Exporters (ASOEX) said in a statement on Monday that "regardless of the reasons that have led transporters to call this strike, we are concerned that a solution has not yet been found, since if the blockade of ports accesses is maintained, problems may be caused to exports of our fruit".

He said this is because "there are ships that must set sail this week, and failure to comply with commitments abroad could further affect the country's economy, exporters, producers, workers and our compatriots in general."

"We hope that the necessary agreements can be reached in a short time so that work can be resumed with normality to comply with the national and international food supply," Bown said.

Meanwhile, Jorge Valenzuela Trebilcock, President of the Chilean Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta), urged the country's authorities to implement measures to protect both the agricultural and transport sectors.

"The agricultural sector in Chile has become, today more than ever, a key element in the supply of our compatriots during a pandemic. In these difficult times, this has meant that food has been able to arrive in a timely and sufficient manner, to every corner of Chile," he said.

"However, this would not be possible without the work of transporters, transport companies and truck drivers, who are a fundamental part of the logistics chain necessary so that supply is not affected."

He added: "We once again ask the political, legislative and judicial authorities to create the security conditions for such strategic activities such as agriculture and transport, they are carried out under normal conditions".

Chile’s southern Araucania region is one of the poorest in the country after decades of conflict with the Mapuche, who accuse the Chilean state of violently occupying their land in the 19th century and confining them in reservations. 

They are demanding the restitution of their ancestral lands, while some groups have resorted to attacking forestry companies’ machinery and harassing farmers.

The strike action is being led by the National Confederation of Chilean Cargo Transport (CNTC), one of three umbrella unions.

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