Sunday, May 22, 2011

Police clash with protesters in Chile

Chilean police used a water cannon to disperse protesters.

Source: Press TV

Police in the Chilean city of Valparaiso have clashed with demonstrators protesting against the government of President Sebastian Pinera's policies.

Most demonstrators were peaceful, but bands of hooded protesters attacked police and smashed shop windows and damaged other properties.

The demonstration -- organized by the country's main trade union movement, the CUT -- was in protest at Pinera's environmental, education and labor policies, state-run BBC reported.

Protesters said his promises were “in the opposite way from those the populations were demanding.”

Many had come to protest against the construction of a dam that would flood 6,000 hectares of land in the remote southern Chilean Patagonia.

The environmentalists predict that the construction of the dam will not only have immediate impacts on the Chilean ecosystem, but will affect the environment of neighboring Argentina, and in the long run will affect the Latin American countries of Uruguay, Paraguay and even Bolivia.

But the government says the HidroAysen project is needed to meet Chile's increasing demand for electricity and is expected to give its final approval in June.

"We can't say we need energy, consume it abundantly, and at the same time oppose all of its sources," said Pinera during his state of the nation address.

Besides HidroAysen, Pinera has approved the construction of three very pollutant coal thermo-electric plants this year, one of which will be the biggest in Latin America.

Chilean officials have ruled out nuclear energy following Japan's nuclear disaster, saying Chile is as seismic as Japan.

The Latin American country witnessed an 8.8-magnitude earthquake on February 7, 2010 which entailed a tsunami.

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