Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Hotspot for Chile's Security Forces

Just when the student revolt was starting to quiet down, another flashpoint has emerged in the mass protests shaking Chile. In the southern area of Aysen, citizens are taking to the streets over a number of issues ranging from high fuel costs, to a shortage of medical facilities, to the decline of the independent fisherman. Clashes and street barricades scared off truck drivers, resulting in a gasoline shortage in Aysen. With tensions high, the police garrison in Aysen is being reinforced with 40 Carabineros flown in by an Air Force C-130 Hercules plane. President Sebastian PiƱera cut short his vacation to meet with his ministers. The Aysen crisis is the latest protest movement to strike Chile. Earlier, a controversial dam project in Aysen angered many in the country. The biggest revolt has been the student demands for  reform in the education system. Meanwhile, the indigenous Mapuche conflict drags on. The Carabineros national police force has the task of controlling the violence from each of these protests, and its job is not getting any easier. Add to that the territorial rifts with Peru and Bolivia and the drug conduit in Bolivian border, and there's plenty Chile's security leaders have on their hands. Update: Road barricades set up by protesters are making life quite unsafe in the Aysen and Coyhaique areas. Hospitals are running low on food, supplies and heating fuel. A man died after roadblocks delayed an ambulance by five hours. But a relative disputed reports, saying there was an open route. Government officials are set to start negotiations with protest leaders.

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