A new Minister of Public Works and Transport was sworn in on Saturday (18 August), in an effort by Chile's President Salvador Allende to come to terms with striking truck owners.
A new Minister of Public Works and Transport was sworn in on Saturday (18 August), in an effort by Chile's President Salvador Allende to come to terms with striking truck owners. The removal of General Cesar Ruiz was a key demand for ending the strike which has been going on almost a month. Air Brigadier Humberto Magliochetti was appointed in his place.
The strike is costing over six million dollars (2.4 million sterling) a day, and has left many areas critically short of food and fuel. On Monday (21 August), most of the nation's 140,000 small shopkeepers, and thousands of professional workers -- including doctors, lawyers and airline pilots -- stopped work in solidarity with the truck owners.
The dismissal of the Transport Minister was one of 14 points demanded by the owners before they put their 45,000 trucks back on the roads. In ten days of bargaining, the owners, who control 70 percent of the country's transport, have agreed on only nine of the 14 points.
Despite President Allende's concessions, the crises worsened on Monday (21 August) when clashes between supporters of the ex-Minister and the President resulted in six people being wounded by gunfire. Police fired tear gas and used water cannon in efforts to stop the running battles in Santiago's central streets, involving an estimated 2,000 youths. Rioting continued throughout the day.
As the strikes and violence continued, Army officers were reported "uneasy" over their position in Dr. Allende's 33-month-old coalition government.