Unions in Chile declare general strike, block copper mines

Calama:  Protesters blocked access to Chile’s largest copper mines by setting barricades on fire as unions declared a general strike in Calama.

Demonstrators shut down access to the mines. They demanded that the government put aside a percentage of the revenue from the mines, for infrastructure in the region.

Mining is Chile’s lifeblood, providing 40 per cent of state earnings. Police in riot gear used tear gas and water cannons against protesters and arrested 14 of them, including the mayor of Calama Esteban Velasquez.

They were later released.

The city of Calama, 1575 kilometres (980 miles) north of Santiago, was left paralyzed from the protests, with hospitals attending to only emergencies.

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