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25 August, 2017

Teachers, workers, students strike across South America

Neoliberal governments in the region are being hit with a strike wave

Social organizations and trade unions in South America are protesting in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, mainly to demand more investment from their governments in education, but also against neoliberal policies.

In Argentina, the Union of Education Workers and the Association of Middle and Higher Education called a 24-hour strike to demand a higher increase in salaries in the capital city of Buenos Aires. The unions reject the proposal of an increase of 21.5 percent by the local government and will march to congress to present their demands to the government of President Mauricio Macri. "It is one of the lowest increases in the country and is happening in the richest district," Eduardo Lopez, general secretary of the UTE, said to reporters.

Argentina's inflation was running at an annual rate of 21.6 percent in July. The teachers are demanding an increase of 35 percent, including 25 percent for this year and 10 percent for what they say they lost last year. The marchers are also demanding that the disappeared activist, Santiago Maldonado, be returned alive.

In Chile, the National Coordinator of Secondary Students called for a march in the capital city of Santiago to reject the country's new Public Education Act and demand the municipalities pay the debts they owe the workers. "We will not allow a pact to rob from public education with this law of de-municipalization, which is going to remain in the hands of the next government and a commission of experts," Francisca Flores spokeswoman of Cones said.

As for Colombia, the student community at the Industrial University of Santander organized a large mobilization to reject cutbacks that the government of President Juan Manuel Santos plans to carry out in 2018. The march to protest against cuts in science, technology, and innovation starts at the main entrance of the university campus, located in the northeast city of Bucaramanga.

Meanwhile, in Peru, the General Confederation of Workers and the Workers Union are organizing a march through Lima to the congress, although Peruvian law prohibits any protests close to the legislative branch. The country's teachers, who have been protesting against lack of funds for the past two months have been attacked and repressed by the government of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. "The aim of the mobilization is to express solidarity with the unions that have been carrying out protests and strikes, against the anti-popular measures that come from the PPK neoliberal government, which greatly affect the working class and the people," said the unions in a statement.

In Paraguay, the teacher's union confirmed a strike until Friday to demand wage increases, with a march to the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Finance. They will request "compliance with the law and the implementation of basic professional salary," Silvio Piris from the Teachers Federation of Paraguay, said. The teachers rejected the proposal of the government of Horacio Cartes of a gradual increase of 8 percent for teachers who have been working for more than 20 years. Those who have less seniority will only get 5 percent. The teachers want an increase of 32 percent.

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