Former secret police agent found murdered in Buenos Aires, as protests against the Hidroaysén project continue across the nation and International Workers’ Day brings labour issues to the forefront of the political agenda.
Ex-DINA agent Enrique Arancibia Clavel (57) was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment on Thursday, having received 34 stab wounds.
Arancibia Clavel was imprisoned in 2000 after being given a life sentence for the assassination of the former commander-in-chief of the army Carlos Prats and his wife Sofia Cuthbert in 1974. The former agent of Pinochet’s infamous secret police also received jail terms for torture and kidnapping. He was granted parole in 2007.
Police investigations and forensic details emerging from the autopsy have so far concluded that the motivation for the crime is unlikely to be political and that it the former agent is likely to have known the perpetrator, as there were no signs of damage or forced entry into the property.
The body was found and reported to police by a 19-year-old man, who claims to have been Arancibia Clavel’s partner, and who is now being questioned by police in Buenos Aires.
Thousands of marchers gathered in Santiago on Sunday for a demonstration called by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (Unified Workers’ Centre – CUT) to mark International Workers’ Day. From 10am, demonstrators gathered outside the University of Santiago, preparing for the traditional march to the central rally held on the corner of Avenida Brasil and the Alameda.
During his speech, CUT president Arturo Martínez called a further march in Valparaíso on 21 May ‘to demand that the government fulfils its promises and commitments’. After the speech, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse sections of demonstrators, following reportedly minor incidents.
The government has been keen to emphasise progress in Chile’s labour system. Minister of Labour Evelyn Matthei claimed that ‘not only have we been able to create 480,000 jobs this year, but salaries are rising’.
Speaking from the Hospital del Trabajador, President Sebastián Piñera said that ‘the doors of La Moneda will always be open to Chilean workers’ and promised that the coming year would see important developments for the labour movement.
In a speech on 21 May 2011, Piñera is set to announce details of what he calls a ‘revolutionary change in safety, health and job quality for Chilean workers‘, which will include training for workers to act as safety monitors.
Martínez said that Chile was indebted to its workforce and maintained that, despite government promises, ‘the greatest social inequality occurs in the world of work’. The CUT president called for democratically debated labour reforms and new legislation covering collective negotiations.
On Tuesday, thousands joined demonstrations across the country in protest against the proposed Hidroaysén hydroelectric scheme, which will involve the construction of dams across the Baker and Pascua rivers in Patagonia. In Santiago, around 30 people were arrested following a demonstration outside La Moneda.
The citizens’ organisation Patagonia Sin Represas (Patagonia Without Dams) has rejected accusations of violence brought by Hidroaysén’s operations manager Michel Moure. Moure has requested additional security measures for employees and opened a case with the Coyhaique public prosecution service, after a window was smashed at a house belonging to one of the project’s suppliers.
In a public statement, Moure demanded that Patagonia Sin Represas take responsibility ‘for the climate of violence that they have created in the region’. The organisation, which is concerned about the environmental impact of the project, has rejected the accusations and issued a statement condemning acts of violence.