As an anti-Government strike by truck owners enters its third week, serious food and fuel shortages are being experienced throughout Chile.
As an anti-Government strike by truck owners enters its third week, serious food and fuel shortages are being experienced throughout Chile. Long queues are forming outside empty supermarkets and petrol stations. The hauliers are supported by drivers of about 80 per cent of the country's buses and taxis. Some strikers have removed the wheels from their vehicles to prevent possible requisitioning by the authorities Some 70 per cent of Chile's food, fuel and raw materials are transported by road, and the 45,000 hauliers play a vital part in the national economy
To combat the crisis, President Salvador Allende brought four top military men into a new national security Cabinet, sworn in yesterday (Thursday, August 9, 1973). "Chile is in danger," he told the nation in a broadcast. "This Government will have the fight against subversion as its principle task." This was Dr. Allende's eight Cabinet since he took office 33 months ago as the first freely-elected Marxist head-of-state in the West. On the night of its formation, more than half a million Chilean flocked to the centre of Santiago to demonstrate their support for the President.
SYNOPSIS: Throughout Chile, and especially in the capital Santiago, serious food and fuel shortages are beginning to be felt. Queues and crowds are forming outside supermarkets and petrol stations, left empty by a nationwide strike of truck owners.
About seventy per cent of all supplies in Chile are transported by road. There are now guards protecting official convoys.
The strike is now in its third week and the forty-five thousand hauliers are being supported in their anti-Government stoppage by most bus and taxi drivers. Stocks everywhere are dwindling.
The fuel shortage is most severe. With more than half the petrol tankers out of action, fuel is being exported to avoid paralysing the refineries. Industry, motorists and housewives are all affected.
Shopkeepers, their shelves empty, are threatening to close their doors in sympathy with the truckers protesting against the socialist policies of President Salvador Allende's Coalition Government. To combat the economic and political crisis, Dr. Allende has formed a new cabinet which includes four top military commanders. Its principal task, he said, would be to fight subversion. It is his eight Cabins in less than three years.
The Ministry of the Interior has ordered the arrests of the leaders of the Truck Owners Federation, but no detentions have been reported so far.
Many of the strikers have punctured the tyres of their vehicles or even removed the wheels, to prevent them being requisitioned for supply convoys. Hundreds have been impounded by the authorities and the army is helping out with helicopter missions.
The Government is claiming that since the strike began there have been a hundred and eighty-four violent incidents, including sabotage of bridges, oil pipes and railways. But a demonstration of half a million workers on Wednesday showed that Dr. Allende still had the support of the trade unions.